Orange Beach’s Chris Pearson set another first for the Mako football program after he signed a Division I National Letter of Intent Wednesday, Dec. 21, to join the Houston Cougars as part of …
Orange Beach’s Chris Pearson set another first for the Mako football program after he signed a Division I National Letter of Intent Wednesday, Dec. 21, to join the Houston Cougars as part of National Signing Day.
The first all-state player and AHSAA North-South All-Star in Orange Beach football history, Pearson’s National Signing Day ceremony marked another groundbreaking moment for the young Makos program.
“That it's not impossible. You can just keep going and you could do it too,” Pearson said of the example he can set for younger teammates to follow. “It's big, it's history.”
Orange Beach head football coach Jamey DuBose acknowledged the small-school part of Pearson’s recruiting process where he feels as though more Division I colleges missed out on the three-star safety.
“When you're a great player, but you're at a small school or you're at a school that's a new school that's being built, you don't get a whole lot of publicity,” DuBose said. “You've got to go out and demand the respect and demand the numbers to be able to get there and I respect him for doing that. He's done everything the right way. The question is, he's going to a school that's going to be in the Big 12, but at the end of the day: could he play in the SEC? Yes, he could.”
Starting with the 2023-24 school year, Houston will join one of the Power 5 conferences in the Big 12 where Pearson and the Cougars will be on display against the top competition in college football.
Head coached by Dana Holgorsen, Houston has gone 26-20 in his four years where it will play its third bowl game this Friday against Louisiana in the Independence Bowl.
Pearson said the coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Doug Belk, played a major role in his commitment and ultimate signing.
“I liked them a lot when I went out there and it just felt like home,” Pearson said of the coaches. “They wanted me there and they wanted to me to play.”
While it’s Pearson that had his signing moment Wednesday, DuBose said there will soon be more Makos who sign with college football teams partly because of their exposure Pearson brought to the program as a whole.
“He's the first Division I signee in the school's history and hopefully that will trend a lot more into the future. He got a lot of colleges down here, of course, with his athletic ability which has helped a lot of other guys out that will be signing in the second go-around,” DuBose said. “When you've got a great player and a great athlete, he only helps others out to get exposure, to be seen and he brings recognition into the program.”
Above all else, though, DuBose emphasized the fact that Pearson earned his college playing opportunity and will have his education paid for while doing so.
“I'm excited for his family, I'm excited for his future; that's the most important thing because what gets missed in this whole thing is he's getting an education paid for and it's going to change the direction of hopefully his life and what his plans are,” DuBose said. “If it works out in the NFL down the line or somewhere that's great, but the biggest thing you’ve got to look at is by getting this opportunity, he's going to get an education paid for.”
Possibly more impressive is his expedited end to his high school education where he fulfilled the requirements to enroll early at the University of Houston starting in January.
“He's a tremendous person, he's been a leader on the field with his actions and what he's done,” DuBose said. “He's been a leader off the field to be able to complete the requirements to be able to go get into University of Houston and be able to go on to school early.”