Garrett Sanders, Sports Correspondent
Josh Pearson is someone who screams inspiration. Through hard times in life, he endured hardship and found a way out of it to make something of himself. It all started in the fall semester of 2015.
Pearson was a star athlete from Decatur looking for a school to further his academic and athletic career. He chose Jacksonville State University and with a full-ride athletic scholarship, he secured place on the football team. Pearson thought he had it made, but that’s when the immaturity of a college freshman hit Pearson.
Pearson ended up putting too much focus on other things rather than being a student-athlete first. That’s when things came to a halt. He was deemed ineligible for the 2016 college football season. Pearson ended up losing part of his scholarship as well. The reality of life then hit Pearson, and he realized he needed to change his life around.
After days of studying to 3 a.m., making good grades and doing good deeds around the community of Jacksonville, Pearson regained confidence in himself, which resulted in him being deemed eligible for the 2017 football season. Pearson not only excelled in the classroom as a full-time student, but he succeeded on the gridiron as well.
While only playing in one game in 2017, Pearson found his way up the depth chart in the receivers’ room – and in 2018 things began to skyrocket for Pearson.
Being a redshirt Junior for the Gamecocks didn’t put any pressure on Pearson. Pearson blossomed in the offense with his quarterback counterpart, Zerrick Cooper. The two have an on-field relationship that is like none other. Pearson was known for his quick speed in the slot and could run routes to perfection, which upped his game on the field.
Seeing Pearson’s 67 catches and 1,123 yards in the 2018 season was very impressive. But the thing that is special about his talent on the field is his ability to get in the endzone.
Pearson has excelled at catching and running routes, but if there was one thing that stands out about him, it’s that he is a touchdown machine. Pearson’s 2018 season ended with a total of 17 total touchdowns on his record, averaging up to more than one touchdown per game. In 2019, he only continued to be that special weapon for the Gamecocks in the endzone.
With the Gamecocks already five games into the season, Pearson has seen plenty of action on the field. But last week in Clarkesville, Tennessee, he had an extraordinary moment in his football career, one which no one can take away from him.
Pearson, who was coming into the game with 22 career touchdowns during his time at JSU, only needed one more to tie the all-time career touchdown record for wide receivers for the Gamecocks. The record was formerly held by JSU alumnus Joey Hamilton, with 23 career touchdowns.
Pearson seized his chance to tie this record during the game against Austin Peay. With his partner in crime, Cooper, throwing the ball his way, Pearson ran into the end zone from 16 yards out to score a much needed touchdown, and to tie Hamilton’s record.
Pearson was not done, however.
Pearson and the Gamecocks were down big to Austin Peay late in the game. But with less than two minutes left in the game, Pearson wanted to edge the competition closer and score, and he had a chance.
Being three yards away in the slot, all Pearson had to do was find a way to get open and beat his man in coverage. Cooper snapped the ball and Pearson did what he does best, beat his man, ran the perfect route, caught the ball and scored.
The three-yard go-ahead touchdown broke Joey Hamilton’s, and now Josh Pearson stands alone at 24 career touchdowns. But for Pearson, he just wants to get better with his teammates and win a national title.
“It is nice to have but it was hard to enjoy it after the game,” said Pearson when asked what he thought about breaking the touchdown record. “It’s a great record to have, but it is no fun when you lose because it is a team sport.”
With all that Pearson has accomplished throughout his time at JSU, the sky is the limit for him. The redshirt senior is currently majoring in exercise science and wellness and would like to pursue a career in being a strength and conditioning coach if football does not work out long term.