Tyrone Pearson visited Illinois this past weekend for the annual Orange and Blue Spring Game. Formerly of Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky, Pearson now attends Indianapolis powerhouse Warren Central. The move was sudden, but Pearson believes it was for the best.
"There were a whole lot of family issues at home, so we decided to move, and my mom wanted to move to Indianapolis. So we just packed up and left, and I found a new home at Warren Central."
Not only does Indianapolis provide Pearson with a new environment, it also gives him a fresh start for football on a team with a brigade of Division 1 talent. On Saturday, he came with new teammates Jordan Wallace (linebacker) and Kevin Davis (wide receiver). He hopes to add to the success of the program and come out a better player.
"The coaches they have up there have won state and national coach of the year awards. The background that they have and the players they produce, you don't have that kind of success by doing something wrong."
The move nearly coincided with his recent decommitment from Louisville, but the move wasn't the reason for withdrawing his pledge. With a new school and new teammates, the 6'-3", 265 pound tackle wanted to take a step back and re-evaluate his college outlook. He hopes the move will help him solidify his academics, another reason his mother wanted to make the move.
"The move was part of that, but most of it was my mom. She wanted to make sure everything was right, that I got my grades together and then focused on college."
Now that he's opened things back up, the early selection to the U.S. Army All-American game is hearing from the likes of Illinois, Louisville, Alabama, Auburn, FSU, USC, Oregon, and Ohio State. He's hoping to see a couple more of the schools on his list this upcoming summer.
"I might be going to Florida, Virginia Tech, Alabama, and maybe Oregon."
Though it was his first visit, Pearson holds Illinois near the top of his list, with two major southeastern schools. He's especially taken notice of the recent talent brought in at each school.
"Illinois is kind of standing out along with Alabama and Florida State. Just the players they're all going out and getting, I really like."
But what makes Illinois appealing enough to hang with some of the heavy hitters?
"Pretty much, it's a whole lot of family up here. People are here to help you out and reach your goal. They've produced a couple NFL players, and they have what it takes."
A lot of players mention "family" when discussing Illinois, and Pearson is no exception to the trend. But he also took note of the level of healthy competition between the two squads at the game and knows that the team is becoming better by pushing each other.
"It's great. You can see that it's family, and they have a lot of good football players out there. The competition they bring is obviously there. Offense and defense is going at it on every play, trying to make each other better."
One of the big reasons Illinois has been able to make such a good impression on Pearson so far is the effort of Illini assistant coach Jeff Brohm, who has deep roots in the Louisville area. He's really formed a bond with Pearson. He appreciates who Coach Brohm is and what he can do for him as a player and a person.
"He's a very good guy. The kind of friendship that he brings, he'll be one of those guys that's a players' coach that will be there for you but still have your back. He'll let you know when you're wrong and help you get right."
Pearson has worn red and yellow at Seneca and will wear black and gold at Warren Central. Could he possibly see himself in Illini colors?
"I could definitely see myself with an orange and blue jersey on Saturday mornings."
With spring ball in the books and recruiting heating up, keep an eye on Pearson and many other Illinois prospects as summer approaches.