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The Cub Report: A look at UH football signee Jalen Emery

Senior cornerback Marcus Jones has drawn national attention for his play. Jones will be a key mentor to the young Jalen Emery during his freshman season. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Senior cornerback Marcus Jones has drawn national attention for his play. Jones will be a key mentor to the young Jalen Emery during his freshman season. | Courtesy of UH athletics

The No. 1 rule for defensive backs on any level of football is normally pretty simple: Whatever happens, don’t get beat.

No matter what, stay with your man, or lockdown your area. Stripped down to its most basic definition, that is essentially what it means to be a cornerback or a safety.

Shadow Creek High School product and incoming defensive back Jalen Emery hardly gets beat.

By adding the 5-foot-9-inch corner to the 2021 roster, UH football will be getting a player who plays like a fighter jet.

Far from the days of “three yards and a cloud of dust,” what we now know football to be is a game of air, and it sometimes seems like Emery’s feet hardly touch the ground.

Teams need quarterbacks with big arms and wide receivers with reliable hands.

This strategy is on both sides, therefore, it’s only right that cornerbacks who have the ability to disrupt have also become a valuable commodity at both the collegiate and professional levels.

Houston’s secondary was fairly even-kill last season, and the three-star Emery will be an integral part in building a more reliable defensive backfield in the coming years.

This is The Cub Report on Jalen Emery:


Emery has an elite level of anticipation when it comes to reading quarterbacks and their tendencies.

His eyes are possibly his greatest weapon, and he consistently uses them to jump routes and disrupt passes. On deep throws, he does a good job at playing the ball and not only the receiver.

Emery’s ability to anticipate plays helps him defend the pass and boost the run defense. He does a solid job of coming up to defend the run once he locates the ball.


Emery is a muddy player, meaning he isn’t afraid to get dirty. On tape, he doesn’t seem intimidated by larger receivers and plays them well with both his hands and body.

He is a hard hitter and will sacrifice his body to make a play. Emery plays fast and launches himself into the middle of any action he finds himself near.

 Reliable Tackling

Emery is a textbook tackler and knows how to wrap up and drive with his legs. His most entertaining plays in high school occurred on screen passes out to the flats where his anticipation paid off with big hits.

It’s clear that Emery enjoys contact, but as an undersized corner, he knows to rely on proper form to get bigger guys down to the ground. He goes low when necessary and isn’t hesitant about using his complete body to subdue the ball carrier.

Room for improvement

Emery’s speed isn’t great, but his anticipation allows him to keep up with plays.

Still, several incomplete passes during his senior season probably would have been interceptions had Emery had better closing speed.

There also was not much footage of Emery in press coverage last season, and bump-and-run is something every corner should be able to settle into at some point during their collegiate career.


Emery’s best shot at getting on the field early at UH is likely going to be in nickleback sets when he’s tasked with covering smaller slot receivers across the middle.

He can’t help his size, but he has a knack for the ball and his undoubted determination to make a play makes up for his lack of height.

If Emery can learn from the older guys in the locker room, he should find himself in a position to get some live-game action sooner rather than later.

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