INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — For one Alabama player, Monday night’s 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship game is a homecoming.
Emil Ekiyor Jr., grew up in Indianapolis. The Alabama offensive lineman helped win an Indiana state football championship for Cathedral High School. His parents said being back home again in Indiana for the big game is a blessing.
There’s no doubt who Andrea and Emil Ekiyor Sr. are rooting for. These parents are professionals at cheering on their son, who has already been to three college football championships.
“It is always surreal when I go to stadiums with a crowd of 100,000 people and I see my kid playing,” said Emil Ekiyor Sr. “I always have to pinch myself. It is him living his dream and us being able to cheer and stay excited for him. So I always have to pinch myself that this is actually happening for the last four years. So I am sure this game will be no different but coming home and having friends and family around to watch and celebrate and cheer for him, yeah, it is really special.”
Emil has even played at Lucas Oil Stadium while growing up in Indiana. His parents said football has been his dream since he was 9 years old.
“Just to see the way he has locked in on his dreams and worked hard over the years and to tell you the truth, a lot of it we can’t even explain. And if we can’t explain things, we know it is in God’s hands and God is the one doing it,” said Emil Sr.
The family is rooted in faith. Even after suffering a bad shoulder injury in last week’s game, Emil Jr. is ready to win.
“I am like, ‘how are you feeling’ and he is like ‘mom, you know me. I am ready’ and I am like, ‘okay, okay, I was just checking.’ So he is ready to go,” said Andrea.
“Just really saying prayers and encouraging him. But really it is funny, he hasn’t talked much about coming home or how he feels about coming home. Because, it is all being about the game and preparing to play the game,” said Emil Sr.
Play the game, just like he always has back home again, in Indiana.
“I love him more than life, just go attack the day and do what you do and roll tide!” said Andrea.
Emil is a redshirt junior, so his parents hope this isn’t his last national championship game. However, it could be the best, since it’s in Indianapolis.