Coaches, family and friends gathered in the Loudon High School auditorium Feb. 5 to witness Emerson Tripp sign his letter of intent to play football at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
“It’s been a big, big experience for me, it’s been a dream come true,” Tripp said. “Obviously, I’ve been thinking about it for a while, just being up on the stage, signing with (a) college and it’s, obviously, a big dream for me.”
Several colleges around the Southeast began taking notice of Tripp last year before his tremendous senior season for the Redskins. His decision to sign with UC felt like the right fit.
The Patriots are coming off a historical 10-2 season and a quarterfinal berth in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics FCS playoffs.
“The reason I made the decision was due to location, costs, offers, school and all that, and I had an overall great feel there. I believe I’ll be really happy going forward in the future,” he said. “They’re a winning program, they’ve had a long history of success. They talked about almost being there as in winning the championship, and I felt like I wanted to be a part of putting a team in that position to be a championship team, and so that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.”
Tripp and his family moved to Loudon from Baltimore in 2010, which proved difficult for Emerson.
To cope with the move, he immediately got involved with Loudon football at the youth level and quickly fell in love with the community and traditions.
“I remember moving to Loudon in 2010 and dad wanted to sign me up for football and asked me about it, and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll play but if I break my arm, I’m never playing again’,” Tripp said. “Several broken bones later, I’ve got a love for the game. It was a big transition, you know, I was still fairly young, I lost a lot of friends and complained about it. Looking back on it now, I’m so glad that we moved. I’ve made a whole lot of better friends, and I’m, hopefully, going to keep them for the future. The city of Loudon has been great with the support of the team and the community coming together for the team. It’s been a great experience, wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Tripp played on the offensive and defensive lines throughout high school and had a key role in helping the Redskins advance to the Class 3A semifinals for the first time since 2014.
He finished the season with 43 total tackles and was named to the All-County and All-Region 3-3A teams in back-to-back years.
“Athletically and physically, obviously, he has the skills to play college football, but more importantly, he has great character, and so off the field he conducts himself in a great way and in the classroom he’s taken care of business,” Jeff Harig, LHS head football coach, said. “... Obviously, he’s really done that for our program over the last three years.”
Tripp is expected to contribute as an offensive lineman at UC but could also move to defense.
“For him, he’s done everything to maximize his ability, so there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to continue to go forward and do whatever the coaches ask of him and do whatever it takes to get on the field,” Harig said. “Where he’s going to have to step up is in the physicality of the game at the next level, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll do whatever it takes to adapt and succeed because that’s the only way I know him. He’s a weight-room warrior, he’s a self-made football player and Cumberlands is getting a great kid and a guy that will be a leader for them.”
Tripp will continue to work out during the offseason before reporting to camp later this summer.
“Definitely going to be working out a lot, that’s definitely going to be a big factor, especially this summer,” he said. “Going to be working out, some running, just continuing to get myself better for the team and then when I report the second week of August, I’m going to give it my all and try to put myself in a position to play.”