Thursday, April 11, 2013
LB Pearson looking for a big year
By Erik McKinney
Manoah Pearson doesn't say much when conversation turns to the topic of the Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne football team. The 6-foot, 225-pound linebacker just shakes his head at the thought of his Carson (Calif.) Colts running up against the Gauchos four times in the past two years and coming away on the losing end of each meeting.
In 2011, a one-point regular season loss was followed by a 48-32 defeat for the CIF title. Last year, Carson dropped a hard-fought 26-20 decision in the regular season and again fell 39-12 in the semifinals. Pearson credits a senior-laden Narbonne team -- featuring Pac-12 signees Keishawn Bierria and Paulo Lepua on defense -- for coming away with those wins, but he knows that this season has a chance to be different.
"I'm excited for this year," Pearson said. "It's been a long time since I've felt like this. Every year is a big year, but this one is going to mean the most. It's my senior year."
Because there were so many defensive senior standouts in the city section last year, Pearson didn't generate much publicity. But after a season in which he registered 147 tackles, one interception and one fumble returned for a touchdown, Pearson will head into his senior year with plenty of attention.
Carson will open the 2013 season with its third coach in three years, but just as Kevin McCall -- a former Carson player and long-time assistant coach at the school -- will provide some stability as a head coach, Pearson will do the same on the field in a variety of roles.
Capable of playing inside and outside linebacker, defensive end and fullback, Pearson has a chance for another outstanding showing this fall.
"I really do a lot of things," he said. "I can pass rush, stop the run, play the pass. I don't really have a strong side. I can play anywhere. I like it all -- moving around the field."
Pearson's big numbers last season came despite a groin injury, which he is only now truly getting over. Once he is fully healthy, Pearson doesn't anticipate giving himself much rest this spring and summer. He's leaving his camp schedule up to McCall, but Pearson is excited to get to as many events as possible.
"I want to visit everywhere," he said. "I want to keep my options open and I want to go see UCLA, USC, Oregon, San Diego State. I want to go to a lot of places, to do camps and take visits."
So far, Pearson has heard from a variety of schools from across the country. Arizona, Arizona State, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, San Diego State and UCLA are just a few he could rattle off as having expressed interest with letters and camp invites. Though he has no early leaders, Pearson said the local draw of UCLA and USC is something that has interested him for some time, citing the tradition of both programs.
But while Pearson has a chance to make a name for himself this spring and summer, he knows the true test will come again this fall, when he lines up across from a familiar foe.
"Narbonne," he said. "They've had me two years in a row and I've never beaten them. So this year, I'm looking forward to beating them."