James Emmett is a smart student. The 2014 Pittston Area valedictorian knew patience would be the key to success in his first few seasons at Ursinus College.
The waiting game paid off.
A 2014 Pittston Area graduate, Emmett started five of the last six games for Ursinus and proved what it takes to be an NCAA Division 3 quarterback. The sophomore started a total of six games this season after appearing in just one in his freshman year.
“It was great to finally get my shot as a sophomore,” Emmett said. “It was great to get that experience and that will help me through the mistakes I’ve made through the next two years.”
Emmett finished his first full season for the Bears with 831 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His completion percentage finished about 50 percent. The 6-3, 200-pound quarterback saved his best performance for last in a 28-20 win over Dickinson.
On Nov. 14, Emmett was an efficient 15-of-24 with two touchdowns. In the first quarter, Emmett led a 14-play, 78-yard drive in which he capped with a 1-yard TD plunge. On that drive, Emmett had 72 yards passing. The Bears had to shake off a late rally from Dickinson.
“That was the greatest feeling,” Emmett said. “We finally got our offense rolling throughout the whole game. It felt good to send the seniors out the right way.”
In week 5, Emmett took over for injured quarterback Salvatore Bello and completed 18-of-38 passes for 178 yards in his first significant action. He made his first career start the next week against Juniata.
Down 21-17 against Juniata, Emmett orchestrated a potential game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. His pass was intercepted inside the red zone in the waning seconds.
“That’s a tough situation for anyone to be in,” Emmett said. “We were driving down the field and it was a mistake that an inexperienced player will make sometimes. I know what I have to do to learn from it.”
Emmett said that experience will help him late in games throughout the rest of his career.
Quite possibly the biggest of Ursinus’ three wins on the season came in the opening week. The Bears beat Millersville, 17-9 in five overtimes. Emmett did not appear in that game, but said it was one of the most exciting games he’s ever experienced with a team.
Over the next several months, Emmett will fight for the starting position with Bello, a junior.
Head coach Peter Gallagher was impressed with how sophomore Emmett developed throughout the season.
“He just got better and better as he got more experience,” Gallagher said. “He makes some throws that are very impressive. I think the mistakes he makes comes from getting more experience.”
Gallagher said he would like to see Emmett put on a few pounds in the weight room this offseason.
“He’s was a big, smart kid coming out of high school,” Gallagher said.
It was a tough few years for Emmett at Pittston Area. The Patriots finished with a combined six wins over Emmett’s two seasons under coach Mike Barrett.
In Emmett’s career at Pittston Area, he threw for more than 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns. He averaged 100 yards passing per game. He started a total of 20 games at quarterback in his junior and senior years.
“Going from starting in high school to being the backup again was rough,” Emmett said. “You have to do whatever the team asks you to do.”
Emmett is the son of Ralph and Juliann Emmett, of Pittston. He has a brother, RJ, and a sister, Julia. The family gets to most of Emmett’s games games, but Emmett said it’s especially satisfying when his grandparents make it to games.
Grandparents James and Julie Chimento, of Pittston, made it to the final game of the season.
“That means everything to me, especially with my grandparents there,” he said. “I make sure to tell them after every game that I’m thankful for them to be there. It means so much to me.”
Emmett is currently studying physics with a minor in mathematics. His plan is to attend graduate school when he’s finished at Ursinus in a few years.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick