As a sophomore in 2005, Pinkard emerged as a key member of the USC defense showing off his versatility playing both safety positions before settling in as the Trojans starting cornerback for the last six games of the season.
On the year Pinkard recorded 54 tackles, a team-high 7 pass deflections and intercepted two passes.
Pinkard's rare combination of athleticism and football smarts prompted Pete Carroll to call him the best all-around football player on the team before the start of the 2006 season. Unfortunately, for Pinkard, he wasn't able to show the nation what he had shown Pete Carroll during practice.
The playmaking defensive back was penciled in as the starting free safety in 2006 but suffered a knee injury in the Trojans season opening victory over Arkansas and missed the remainder of the Trojans 2006 season.
"The first year I was injured I tore my right ACL and had a bad bone bruise," Pinkard said.
He received a medical redshirt and after extensive rehab Pinkard was poised to make a return to the field in 2007, but was once again sidelined with a serious knee injury and forced to miss the 2007 season.
"I came back the following year and I had a partially torn ACL on my left side," Pinkard explained. "It wasn't as bad; it wasn't fully torn but you could tell on the MRI that something was clearly wrong with it and I had to have surgery."
The hardest part of making his comeback hasn't
"It's always hard. It's very difficult to sit back and watch the guys playing and all the hard work they have to go through and suffering with a couple of tough losses," Pinkard said of his absence. "It's kind of tough because I wasn't there. It's kind of tough staying a part of the team but they do a good job of keeping you in the loop."
This off-season Pinkard has continued his daily rehab schedule and has started participating in the Trojans 6 a.m. workout sessions with Coach Carlisle. He is very encouraged with the progress that he has made and is looking forward to returning to mix this spring.
"It's coming along quite well. I have started running a little bit and working out with the team now. I have a lot of stability back and everything so it's going really good," Pinkard said about his rehab. "I think I will be pretty ready to go for spring but I probably won't be doing too much."
The hard-working defensive back hasn't talked with Coach Carroll about his role in 2008 but he hopes to be back at safety. He will graduate at the end of this school year and doesn't plan to petition for another medical redshirt, so he will be a fifth-year senior in 2008.
After spending two years on the trainers table and in the weight room working his injured knees, Josh Pinkard is looking to return to the Coliseum field and show USC fans why Pete Carroll once called him the best all-around player on a team full of stars.
"You don't want those words to go to waste because Coach Carroll is highly praised around the world, and having him say that about you, I can't let him down and can't let the team down," Pinkard said.
When asked what has kept him motivated throughout his long road back Pinkard replied, "This is something that I want to do and this is my main goal to play football and keep it going. I have had minor setbacks but people can always get through those.
"I want to get through this season and have a good year. I really want to get up for the Thorpe Award and try and win that and move on to the next level."