99 Warriors: No. 29, Rose Bowl Champion and All-Big Ten Running Back Pepe Pearson

By Andrew Lind on August 3, 2018 at 8:05 am
Pepe Pearson

We're counting down the days to kickoff with “99 Warriors,” the greatest Ohio State Buckeyes by jersey number, as voted by the staff of Eleven Warriors.

No. 29 Pepe Pearson

After a stellar high school career in which he rushed for a nearly 4,500 yards and 43 touchdowns, Euclid native Pepe Pearson arrived at Ohio State in 1994 with high expectations. 

RB Pepe Pearson

b. Dec. 11, 1975 (Euclid, OH)

  • All-Big Ten (1996)
  • Big Ten Champion (1996)
  • Rose Bowl Champion (1997)

He played sparingly as a freshman and sophomore behind eventual Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, but finally excelled as a starter in 1996. He rushed for 1,484 yards and 17 touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes (11-1) to a Big Ten championship, a win over Arizona State in the Rose Bowl and a No. 2 national ranking. 

Pearson is Ohio State’s 10th all-time leading rusher (3,121) and third in rushing attempts (659). He trails only Archie Griffin, Ezekiel Elliott, Eddie George, Tim Spencer, Beanie Wells, Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, Keith Byars and Carlos Hyde in the former category. 

Pearson — who graduated in 1998 with a degree in sociology — went undrafted in the that year’s NFL Draft, but bounced around the league for four seasons. He spent time with the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but mostly on their offseason and/or practice squads. 

Pearson had brief stints in the XFL and NFL Europe, where he won the 2000 World Bowl with the Rhein Fire. He also spent time with the Dayton Warbirds of the National Indoor Football League.

Once he hung up his cleats, Pearson — a married father of three — began coaching. After 10 seasons as an assistant at Ohio Dominican and offseason stints with the NIFL's Daytona Beach Hawgs (coach) and the Continental Indoor Football League’s Marion Mayhem (coach and general manager), he was named the running backs coach at Youngstown State in 2015. 

Pearson spent just one season with the Penguins before he was hired to the same position at Marshall, where he remains to this day.

Photo: Ohio State Dept. of Athletics

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