Jacksonville State’s Josh Pearson has been named to the 2019 Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team, the AFCA announced on Thursday.
Pearson, a senior wide receiver from Decatur, Ala., is one of just 22 players from across all levels of college football selected to the team and becomes just the fifth Gamecock to earn the honor. He joins Daniel Kirkland (1999), Chris Kirk (2004), Josh Cain (2009) and Dalton Screws (2015) as the only JSU student-athletes to receive the prestigious honor.
“Because being a student-athlete is about more than their performance on the field, we’re honored to share the stories of these deserving young men who embody the ‘good’ in college athletics,” said John O’Donnell, president of Allstate’s Western Territory. “At Allstate, we are inspired by their positive impact and we unite in this passion to serve local communities.”
The team acts of service range from the founding of an organization that serves the homeless, to raising research funds for the rare disease community. Nearly all are involved in local youth mentorship initiatives, and the team has collectively volunteered thousands of hours to better the lives of those in their communities.
Pearson was on the list of 137 nominees for the team and was selected from that list by an esteemed panel of judges. The 22 players selected stood out for their leadership in local communities and overall commitment to giving back.
The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team will be invited to the 2020 Allstate® Sugar Bowl® and will join Tim Tebow and Allstate volunteers to give back to New Orleans through a special community service project. Allstate will recognize the team during the halftime show.
Fans are invited to visit ESPN.com/Allstate to vote for the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team captain once per day, now through Nov. 22. The team captain will be honored at The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN later this season.
The honor adds to a list of honors for the All-American receiver that led all of Division I in touchdown receptions in 2018. Pearson’s 17 touchdown catches also broke JSU’s school record of 11 set by Josh Barge in 2015.
This summer, he became just the second JSU student-athlete to win the Ohio Valley Conference’s Steve Hamilton Sportsmanship Award, which is given annually to an Ohio Valley Conference male or female student-athlete of junior or senior standing who best exemplifies the characteristics of the late Morehead State student-athlete, coach and administrator Steve Hamilton. Criteria include significant athletics performance along with good sportsmanship and citizenship. The award was voted on by the Conference’s athletics directors and sports information directors.
Pearson has been extremely active in both the Jacksonville State community and his hometown on Decatur, Alabama. He is a Huddle Leader for the JSU football program, leading groups of players that go out into the community and volunteer. That includes various service opportunities on campus and in the community.
In Pearson’s own time, on top of what he does as part of the football team’s service opportunities, he is constantly going to elementary schools at least once a week to read to students, help teachers with classroom needs, assist with activities in physical education classes and also to mentor kids or play games with them during recess. He visits the schools so regularly, teachers in the community have his phone number and know they can contact him when they need additional help.
Pearson and his teammates were also heavily involved in the campus and community cleanup following a EF-3 tornado that hit in March 2018. The players would hold spring practice in the mornings and then go into the community and help clean debris from people’s yards. The tornado destroyed the JSU School of Business building, so Pearson was involved in helping paint the walls of a former elementary school to help get it ready to house the business school temporarily. Pearson has also been involved with Rainbow Omega, a facility for adults with special needs, interacting with residents and helping them with daily tasks.
When back in his hometown, he volunteers daily at the St. Paul’s Boys and Girls Club, the United Pentecostal Jubilee House of Prayer and with the Little Buddy program at Austin High School and also helps with local sports teams practices as well as training youth athletes. When he was in high school he was presented the Presidential Award for Community Service.
On the field in 2018, Pearson earned first-team All-American honors after catching 67 passes for 1,223 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 17 touchdowns established a new Jacksonville State single-season record, were just two away from the OVC all-time record and led all Division I (FBS or FCS) players. His performance helped Jacksonville State to a 9-4 overall and 7-1 OVC record as the Gamecocks won its fifth-consecutive OVC Championship.
Pearson became the first player in school history to open the season with three-straight 100-yard receiving games and he would go on to tie the school record with five total games of 100 or more receiving yards. Pearson was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team was selected by an esteemed voting panel, which includes Tebow (Florida, 2009 team) and O’Donnell, Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN), Zaid Abdul-Aleem (Duke, 1994 team); Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia, 1997, 1998 teams); Brian Brenberg (St. Thomas, 2001 team); Mike Proman (Amherst, 2002 team); Wes Counts (Middle Tennessee State, 1999 team); media members Blair Kerkhoff (Kansas City Star), and Paul Myerberg (USA TODAY); Frank Solich, 2019 AFCA President and Ohio University Head Coach; and Joe Taylor, 2001 AFCA President and athletic director at Virginia Union University.
“This is the 12th year that Allstate has partnered with the AFCA to help honor deserving football student-athletes on the Good Works Team,” AFCA Executive Director Todd Berry said. “This award embodies what is great about the human spirit, football student-athletes and coaches from all parts of the country dedicated to one thing, giving of their time and energy to make a difference in their communities.”
Throughout the season, fans can follow along and join the conversation by using #GoodWorksTeam on their social media channels to learn more about these incredible players and their stories.
The following players and honorary head coach are named to the 2019 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team:
Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)
Koby Quansah, Duke University
Denzel Goolsby, Kansas State University
James Smith-Williams, NC State University
Connor Wedington, Stanford University
Isaiah Sanders, U.S. Air Force Academy
Marcel Dancy, University of California
Jake Fromm, University of Georgia
Bryce Torneden, University of Kansas
Landon Young, University of Kentucky
Tre Tipton, University of Pittsburgh
Spencer Eason-Riddle, University of South Carolina
Combined Divisions (FCS, II, III & NAIA)
Danny Munoz, Bethel University (Minn.)
George Hatalowich, Davidson College
Ryan Landis, Frostburg State University
Josh Pearson, Jacksonville State University
Aaron Feazelle, Mississippi College
Jacob Katzer, Morningside College
Ben Ellefson, North Dakota State University
Ben Bartch, Saint John’s University (Minn.)
Dante Olson, University of Montana
Ryan Oliver, Utica College (NY)
Luke Bevilacqua, Wayne State University (Mich.)
Honorary Head Coach
Dabo Swinney, Clemson University