Photo by Derrick Mahone
After being a reserve the last two seasons, Brandon Pearson will get his chance to start at quarterback for Drew this season.
RIVERDALE — Brandon Pearson has patiently waited for this season.
It is his senior season, and he finally inherits the starting role as the Drew High quarterback. After two seasons as a top reserve for starter Jay Murray, the Titans offense finally belongs to him.
And Pearson says he is ready.
“It is always pressure on the starting quarterback at any level,” Pearson said before Tuesday’s practice. “It has been three years now in this system. I know it. It is almost second nature to me.”
Titans coach Jarrett Laws is hoping that Pearson has mastered the offense. Last season, Murray, who signed with Div. II Benedict College in South Carolina, passed for 1,011 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Two years ago, he led Drew to its only state playoff appearance in school history.
During the 2012 season, Pearson appeared in five games. He was 10 of 27 for 111 yards and a touchdown. The 6-0, 200-pounder also had 10 carries for 61 yards and a score.
Laws said the coaches have tweaked the offense some to fit Pearson’s skill set.
“We want to play to his strengths,” Laws said. “He has wanted to learn and lead this offense.”
Pearson will do so without the many playmakers that Murray had over the last two seasons. There are no standout skills personal at the wide receiver or running back positions.
“We are taking more of a hard hat, overalls workman approach. There are no superstars on this team.”
As a team, Drew rushed for 2,366 yards and 28 touchdowns, as they used four different running backs. Jordan Metts, who rushed for 322 yards and four touchdowns has transferred to nearby Riverdale High for his senior season.
Lester Knauls, who rushed for a team-leading 747 yards and seven touchdowns, will be out until mid September because of a fracture ankle injury.
“He is working hard to get back,” Laws said.
The Titans will start the season with sophomore Marquis Terry (570 yards, 7 TDs) and Tracy Gaston (167 yards, 6 TDs) running behind an inexperienced line.
Chiaza Nwakidike and Ladarius Bright are the lone starters, but Laws is confident they can lead the younger players.
“Both have at least a 3.4 GPA, and they are really bright young men,” Laws said. “They are doing a good job of bringing the younger guys along.”
Defensively, only three starters return, but Laws has added to experience coaches to his staff. Laws said the addition of Alex Bennifield, Tony Mitchell and Jarrod Davis will give him an even stronger staff.
“I think this staff can stand up against any out there,” Laws said. “I like the effort from my players. They are willing to learn, and we just need to coach them up.”