Pierson Gets His Shot
Nov. 14, 2000
The 6-1, 240-pound sophomore, who came into the ASU game with only 15 yardsrushing on four carries during his entire USC career, had his best outingever with 72 yards (mostly out of the tailback position) on 16 carries andthe game-winning touchdown. The following week against Washington State,Pierson proved he was no fluke, rumbling for 36 yards on just five carries.For the season, Pierson has 124 yards on 24 carries (a 5.2 average) and hasbeen a glue-fingered receiver out of the backfield with 10 catches for 147yards and two touchdowns.
While most of the fans watching the games might have been surprised byPierson's new role, he knew that he was ready.
'In practice the week before the game I knew that I was going to be movedto tailback to back up Sultan (McCullough) because of all the injuries,'Pierson said. 'My number was called and I was able to perform. I got achance to run the ball, which I have always loved to do.'
Well, not always.
Flash back a few years ago to when Pierson was just eight years old. He hadjust finished playing his first year of football and he told his dad whathe thought of the experience.
'My first year, after I played, I went to my dad and I said that I didn'twant to play this game again,' Pierson said. 'I just didn't like it. Ipreferred to play soccer. But my dad told me that I had to play. He told methat this is what I was going to be able to do.'
After Pierson's impressive recent outings, his dad just might have beenproven right. Over the years, Pierson has grown to love the sport that heonce swore he'd never play again. Furthermore, with his growing interest infootball came the dream of playing it at the next level.
'USC has always been a dream for me,' said Pierson, who prepped at Oxnard(Calif.) High. 'I had gone to a couple games during high school and seeingthe tradition just made me want to be a part of it.'
An important friendship largely made on the football field also inspiredPierson to come to USC to play.
'(Offensive lineman) Jacob Rogers got his offer maybe a month or a fewweeks before I did to come play football at USC,' said Pierson, who playedwith Rogers at Oxnard High. 'That inspired me because I have played withhim since I was eight years old. We've been together our whole careers andour families are also really close.'
Now a football player by choice, Pierson works hard to become the best thathe can be.
'I always try to work out and stay fit,' said Pierson, who also enjoyssnowboarding and waterskiing with his family.
In addition to always trying to stay fit, Pierson enjoys reading up on hisfavorite football player, Mike Alstott. He tries to pattern himself afterthe bruising Tampa Bay Buccaneer fullback/tailback.
'Right now my favorite football player is Mike Alstott,' said Pierson. 'Ijust got done reading an article on him on what he does in the off-season.I look at what he is drinking, like protein shakes and other nutritionalsupplements. I mean, he does both of the things that I would like to do--play fullback and maybe become a running threat at tailback. I just tryand do the things that he can do and build myself to look the way he looks.'
That is a pretty impressive commitment to football coming from a guy whoonce envisioned himself playing soccer instead. Even more impressive,however, is Pierson's personal goal, a goal that indeed shows that he nowhas a passion for the gridiron.
'My personal goal is to become a captain before I leave here,' Piersonsaid. 'I want to lead people and show them what I can do. I'm not really aspeaker, but I feel like if I can contribute on the field, people are goingto look at me and say that I am doing my job and leading this team.
'I am just really glad that my dad made me stick with football.'
After seeing him score the game-winning touchdown against Arizona State indouble overtime, Pierson probably isn't the only one.
by Erin Szymanski
Sports Information Student Assistant