UCLA receiver Taylor Embree and father, Colorado coach Jon, bonded by football Nov. 16, 2011

from LA Daily News - All Sports News· ·

At the lowest point of Taylor Embree's senior season, he did not need a coach, he needed a father. He got both. UCLA was trailing by 35 points when Embree was involved in a brawl near halftime of the Bruins' 48-12 loss at Arizona on Oct. 20.



At the lowest point of Taylor Embree's senior season, he did not need a coach, he needed a father. He got both. UCLA was trailing by 35 points when Embree was involved in a brawl near halftime of the Bruins' 48-12 loss at Arizona on Oct. 20. Embree was ejected and suspended for the team's matchup the following Saturday against Cal. He did not know what to expect when he called his parents, Jon and Natalyn Embree, but he wasn't expecting it to be pretty. "The phone call was quick; the phone call was just, We're flying you home tomorrow and we'll talk about it then,"' Embree said. "Next morning I flew out, got home and we didn't even talk about it at first. Played some pool, watched some TV, and then he told me that he knows I'm smarter than that. "It was rough, but my dad, one thing he does a really good job of is when he does need to coach me up, he's not too critical of me. He knows I'm going to get criticized and yelled at by the coaches out here, so that's one thing that he never does." Jon Embree has to do enough of that in his day job, which will bring him right back into his son's world on Saturday. The first-year Colorado head coach brings a Buffaloes squad into the Rose Bowl fresh off a 48-29 shellacking of the same Arizona team that so thoroughly embarrassed UCLA. Don't expect the two to be trading any secrets, as "family bragging rights" are at stake, as Taylor Embree said. But even though the two are preparing for each other this week, the lines of communication haven't been broken. "I actually talked to Taylor last night," Jon Embree said during the Pac-12 conference call on Tuesday. "I plan on just my normal routine with him, talking with him. I'll probably talk to him again Wednesday and Thursday and probably Friday night." Said Taylor Embree: "The first person I always want to talk to after a game or even after a practice is my dad. He knows what we're going through. He's been there. He's been on teams that have struggled. He's been on teams that have won. It's special in the fact I have someone I can talk to who knows exactly how I feel." The non-football stuff? That's where Natalyn Embree comes in. She's the buffer between football and reality, for her husband and her sons, Taylor and Connor, a freshman wide receiver at Kansas. Natalyn Embree is more concerned with grades and girlfriends than the gridiron, though the "cook, chauffer and ATM" for three children - the Embrees also have high-schooler Hannah - also knows that she plays an integral role in the football psyche of all three of the men of the household. "It's not always fun," Natalyn Embree said. "Sometimes neither one of them wants to talk. They internalize it. I do feel like I'm the psychiatrist sometimes.Things will get better, honey.' You say all these lines and you hope that one day it's all justified and that what you're saying is real. It's one of those up-and-down rollercoasters for me, too." This season, with her husband's Colorado team at 2-9 and her son's UCLA team at 5-5, there have been more downs than ups. The lowest points was after the Arizona debacle. This wasn't a conversation about touchdowns or dropped passes, about a win or a loss. This was going to be about a man's action on the field. It was brief. It was succinct. "We'll talk about it tomorrow." And they did. Even if Jon Embree's response was probably a bit different than a typical father-son discussion after a fight. "I think Jon in a way respected that Taylor stuck up for his teammates," Natalyn Embree said. "He wants his players to all take care of the others. They're out there as a team - it's not about I or me, it's about us - so I think having Jon in this career, he sees things a lot differently than a dad who's just a fan or happens to have the game on." Jon Embree's career path did have some unintended consequences, though. After an illustrious playing career at Colorado and a two-year stint with the Los Angeles Rams, the former tight end eventually returned to the Buffaloes in 1992, coaching his old position. He remained with Colorado until 2002, when he was hired as UCLA's assistant head coach and receivers coach by Karl Dorrell, but then he received a surprising job offer by the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs in 2006. That meant two moves at just about the worst time for Taylor Embree, who ranks seventh in UCLA history with 130 receptions and 12th in receiving yards with 1,700. After arriving in time for the start of his freshman year at Hart High School, Embree was gone before the start of his senior year, after the family packed up to Overland Park, Kan., where he played for Blue Valley West High. "I was lucky because I only moved twice, but I moved at the worst times - going into high school and into my senior year," said Taylor Embree, who has 13 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown this season. "But it's a sacrifice you have to make. And there are good things - I was excited because it was the first time my dad got to go to every one of my games." It reminded Embree of when his father would come to his elementary school once every couple months for lunch, eliciting a roar from Embree's classmates. Natalyn Embree is not dissuading her son from following the same career path. She sees a lot of Jon in Taylor - Taylor sees a lot of his father in himself, too - and she knows that the passion for the game might just seep in that deep. She does have one piece of advice, though. "I'd say if you're gonna do that, make sure you pick a wife who can handle all these moves," Natalyn said. "If (Taylor) wants to do that, I think it's wonderful. I want all my kids to do something they'll be passionate about and that they have a love for. If that's coaching, I'll be there 100 percent. "And I'll be there to listen to his wife."