A couple of weekends ago, many class of 2018 Wisconsin Badgers were on their official visit to Madison. While getting to know each other further with what appeared to be 16 of the 19 scholarship commits on campus, one thing became apparent to potential nose guard Bryson Williams about fellow defensive recruit Reggie Pearson.
He knows how to play pool.
“Reggie beat all of us in pool,” Williams said on Sunday. “I don’t think Reggie lost a game of pool. He’s pretty good at that.”
Pearson recalled playing several of his future teammates at the Edgewater Hotel, all of them—well most of them—wins.
“I think I played 13 games,” Pearson said. “Didn’t lose one.”
OK, maybe he did lose a game, on a technicality.
“I mean I lost one but I hit the eight ball in on accident. So technically, I’m not going to take that as an L.”
The strong bond between this class of 2018 is apparent, and Pearson was the first verbal commit of the current recruiting cycle back in August 2016. Now, he signed on Wednesday morning with his sights set on Madison on Jan. 15 as an early enrollee.
Williams described both Pearson and fellow 2018 commit Donte Burton as “super funny,” but Pearson also noted he can be quiet and shy.
“It’s not a bad thing to me, but it takes a while for me to get comfortable with people so I kind of keep myself from talking because people actually respect what I say and I feel like the more I’ve stopped talking, the better it is,” Pearson said. “But now, I’m at an age where I just got to speak, I just got to be verbal with other people for them to get comfortable with me and understand how I live.
“Yeah I’m pretty goofy. I’ll laugh a whole bunch. It’s hard to explain. A lot of things are funny to me, sometimes the corniest things are funny to me.”
On the football field, Pearson’s confidence is on full display with the accolades following him. The three-star safety earned back-to-back honors as a part of the Detroit News All-State Dream Team for his relentless play on the field.
How would he describe the way he plays on the field? For Pearson, it starts with instincts in a game that’s ingrained in him.
“I’ve been playing football for 14 years of my life. I’ve been playing for so long, everything comes so natural,” Pearson said. “I’ve been around football my whole life. My dad has been playing football almost his whole life, so it helps me a lot on the field and it helps my IQ on what to do when I’m in certain positions.”
As a safety and defensive back, there’s also the physical side of the game and gaining opportunities to get his hands around the pigskin. Pearson recorded 100 tackles, seven for loss, and eight interceptions this season.
“I like hitting, of course. I’m pretty hard-nosed,” Pearson said. “I’m not afraid of anything, and I definitely like seeing the ball in the air. When you’re a DB, you don’t really get chances with the ball in the air, so you definitely have to take advantage of that. I look to turn the ball over. That’s just something that has to happen. We got to score to make the lead better or maybe get on top of the lead.”
Five Wisconsin commits—Pearson, offensive tackle Michael Furtney, athlete Jaylan Franklin, and wide receivers Taj Mustapha and A.J. Abbott—all hail from the state of Michigan in this recruiting cycle. The quintet of players now call themselves “The M-5,” with Pearson describing matching hoodies—grey sweatshirts with the state border, the nickname, and Bucky Badger on the front, with each of their last names on the back—created before their official visit to Madison.
“We are a tight group,” Pearson said. “Wisconsin had never had that many commits in the same year from Michigan, so we’re definitely a tight knit group. Been knowing them guys for quite some time. The latest one that I really got to know was probably Mike. I played against Jaylan on 7-on-7 plenty of times. Taj and A.J., I have known them since camp days, and we’re definitely close.”
According to Pearson, so is this class of 2018 as a whole, one that he’s seen come together ever since he verbally committed almost a year-and-a-half ago. The official visit was less than two weeks ago, but it was an experience that solidified his thoughts on this group of incoming college student-athletes.
“We are a really tight group of guys,” Pearson said. “We’ve seen so many sides of each other, and it was only two days. It was a great experience to be able to sit back and talk to other players that you don’t know these guys. These guys are coming from Nebraska, Ohio, California, Georgia. You wouldn’t think in a million years you would play with somebody like that, so it was pretty good to see different cultures and vibes of other people.
“I never experienced anything like that, and it’s a good feeling.”