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BYU Football Center James Empey Declares For 2022 NFL Draft

Dec 20, 2021, 11:47 PM
James Empey - BYU Football...
Quarterback Zach Wilson #1 and offensive lineman James Empey #66 of the BYU Cougars both call out signals during second half action against the Boise State Broncos at Albertsons Stadium on November 6, 2020 in Boise, Idaho. BYU won the game 51-17. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – The BYU football offensive line anchor in James Empey is moving on.

Empey, a COVID-19 junior, who has graduated from BYU with a finance degree, is setting his sights on the 2022 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 303-pound center sent a thank you letter to the BYU football program announcing his intentions to move on.

“I want to express my gratitude to all coaches past and present, football staff, and especially my teammates for believing in me and pushing me to be my best self in all aspects of life. You have influenced my life in more ways than just football.

“I also want to express my gratitude for my wonderful wife and family who have supported me through everything.

“After much thought, prayer, and discussion, I’m excited to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft. I’m hopeful for what the future holds, and will always cherish my time at BYU. Go Cougs!”

A graduate of American Fork High School, Empey originally signed with Utah coming out of high school. However, after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Portugal, Empey flipped to BYU to be coached by his dad, Mike Empey, who was the offensive line coach in 2017.

Empey redshirted in 2017 but then had the tall order of filling the shoes left behind by Tejan Koroma. Immediately, Empey was a star at center for BYU, earning Freshman All-American recognition in his first full season of playing.

Empey started the first 28 games he appeared in during his BYU career till he was sidelined with an injury during the 2020 season. Empey started in 41 BYU games throughout his career that saw him coached by four different offensive line coaches.

Empey’s offensive line coach during the 2021 season, Darrell Funk, wrote on Twitter to Empey, “We wish you the best James! It was a pleasure coaching you this year. You have given your heart and soul to this program for a long time and we, all appreciate it! I’m looking forward to watching you take the next step in your career. Good luck!”

During the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Empey battled through injuries. The final appearance of his BYU career came in a win at Washington State, where he suffered a lower-body injury that kept him out for the last six games of his final year in Provo.

Empey was a team captain for BYU in the 2020 and 2021 seasons. When healthy, he’s one of the top centers to come out of BYU in the 21st century.

Along with his success on the field, Empey was recognized for his efforts off the field while at BYU. Empey was a semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy in 2021. The Wuerffel Trophy is college football’s top community service award. Empey was part of the More 2 Life Foundation’s trips to Harlem, New York, to positively impact the youth of the Harlem Jets.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football Center James Empey Declares For 2022 NFL Draft