Keith Pearson, a star Wide Receiver for the Wolverines, Ends Career as All-Time Leading Division One Receiver for Presbyterian College
By: Garrett Mitchell, Staff Writer
You could say that Keith Pearson was born to be a football player. The former Woodruff star, the standout wide receiver on the Wolverines’ teams from 2014 until 2016, has grown his talents even further over the past four seasons at Presbyterian College, just 20 minutes down Interstate 26 in Clinton. Now Pearson, who is set to graduate as the Blue Hose’ all-time Division One leader in every receiving category, could potentially take one last piece of hardware with him across the graduation stage.
Pearson has been nominated for the FCS Walter Payton Award, given in honor of the famed running back whose name it bears. It is rewarded annually to the best offensive player at college football’s Division One championship subdivision level.
“It’s amazing (to be nominated),” said Pearson. “It was also a little bit unexpected, but I’ve been putting in a lot of work, and this goes to show that hard work really does pay off. It would be even more exciting to win it but just to be nominated as a finalist is a blessing itself.”
The FCS conferences elected to play their season this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent limitations, but once on the field, Pearson’s last season in a stellar Presbyterian career was undoubtedly his best.
Pearson hauled in 65 receptions for 831 yards and averaged 133 receiving yards per game. In the season finale against Drake, Pearson snagged 15 passes for 173 yards, with those 15 receptions being the most by any FCS player this season.
In his four-year career, Pearson finished with 200 receptions for 2,304 yards and accumulated 3,419 all-purpose yards in total. All stand as Presbyterian College Division 1 school records.
Two of Keith’s former coaches at Woodruff High School always knew he would be destined for great things and point quickly to his work ethic and the great person he is off the field as well.
“Keith Pearson should definitely be added as one of the many all-time great athletes to come through Woodruff High School,” said Brian Lane, who was the Wolverines’ head football coach from 2008-2013 and coach Pearson during his freshman season. “He was such a competitive young man. He never let his size stop him from being successful. Early on in games, opponents would underestimate him, but after the game, teams knew Keith Pearson meant business.”
Trey Elder, who coached Pearson at Woodruff during his final three high school seasons from 2014-2016, always knew he could count on Pearson for a big play despite always being of smaller stature than most opponents at 5-feet-10 inches tall. Humble yet lethal in the Wolverines’ passing attack.
“It was a privilege to coach Keith,” Elder said. “He was humble, hard-working, and always brought his best. I’m thrilled for Keith to be enjoying the success he has earned and for it to be nationally recognized as a finalist for the most prestigious award at the FCS level. He’s a great ballplayer, but he’s an extraordinary man, and I’m excited for all the good that is happening for him.”
Following the completion of his senior season, Pearson has also entered the NCAA transfer portal and with one year of eligibility remaining, will look to continue his college football career as a graduate student. He will undoubtedly draw the interest of competitive programs looking for a premier wide receiver to complement their passing game. Elder, a former quarterback at Appalachian State University, is also helping him through the transfer process.
Pearson, however, has always been a humble athlete and gives credit to his teammates for his success, especially his former quarterback at Woodruff and current Presbyterian defensive back Keegan Halloran.
“It’s been great to share my career with my teammates,” added Pearson. “They have been encouraging throughout this entire season and continued to push me to be the best that I could be. To be able to share that with Keegan has been amazing as well. He’s like a brother to me, and I’ve spent a lot of time with him and his family. I like to call them my other family. Both Keegan and his brother (Cody Halloran) will be in my wedding in June.”