It’s probably not the way he expected his first year at TCU to go, but for Emari Demercado, he’s happy to have a shot to play for a Power 5 program like the Frogs.
“Out of high school I had four offers, Cal Poly, UC Davis, Navy, and Army, and really I just felt like I could go somewhere bigger so I made the rash decision to go the JUCO route. My mom, she wasn’t happy, but it all worked out.”
It sure did. In Demercado’s one season at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, he rushed for 1,026 yards and 15 touchdowns, while adding 443 receiving yards and two touchdowns through the air.
As a full qualifier out of high school, Demercado didn’t need to stay at Saddleback for more than a semester, and after a stellar season he started hearing from some of those bigger schools who he hoped for.
UCLA began to show interest in the back, but Demercado rolled with the first offer that came in: TCU’s.
“The fact that TCU didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger really sat with me. Other schools were waiting for someone else to do it, but TCU believed in me right away.”
So Demercado took a visit, and then took some sage advice from his mom.
“My mom was like, ‘don’t wait until someone else wants you, because someone else wants you.’”
Now, at the end of his first season as a Horned Frog, Demercado is in line to start the final game of the season against Oklahoma State. Injuries have been a running theme for TCU this year, and the running back position hasn’t been immune. Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson are both unavailable Saturday because of injuries.
The sophomore third stringer saw the bulk of the work in the backfield last week against Baylor, after Olonilua and Anderson both went down, and ran for 60 yards on 15 carries, good for 4 yards/carry. The bigger workload didn’t intimidate Demercado, because he knew he was prepared.
“It felt great. I just had to be ready for the situation. Anything can happen at any time, I just had to go on the field and produce.”
He’ll be needed again Saturday to help steady an offense that looks more like a MASH unit at this point, as he starts alongside another third stringer, QB Grayson Muehlstein. Both will be making their first collegiate starts as TCU tries to become bowl eligible.
The Frogs’ up and down season has been marked by an offense that has been mostly inconsistent, and a defense that - despite an incredible number of injuries - has held its own against most Big 12 offenses.
When asked if he was preparing for Saturday any differently as a starter, Demercado was quick to answer.
“No. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the same routine. Just do what we’ve got to do to keep it moving and prepare for Saturday.”
Oklahoma State is peaking at the right time, and the Cowboys got bowl-eligible last week with a win over then No. 9 West Virginia, after dropping a game to No. 6 Oklahoma by one point in Bedlam.
Of course, The Cowboys’ defense isn’t great. They’re last or second to last in the Big 12 in most major defensive categories, including scoring defense, passing defense, and total defense. Their rushing defense? 8th in the conference - the Pokes are giving up 173 yards on the ground to opposing teams.
For the Frogs to be successful, Demercado has to be successful, but he knows that Saturday is more than just an opportunity for him to show what he’s capable of.
“I don’t just see it as for me. It’s senior night, we’re trying to get to a bowl game, so it’s bigger than just me.”