On a visit to the University of Missouri last weekend, Plano West senior defensive end Shemar Pearl gave Mizzou head coach Barry Odom the news he wanted to hear.
Pearl, a three-star recruit at defensive end, was ready to commit to the Tigers.
The coach’s reaction, Pearl said, was one of pure joy.
“I told [Odom] that I want to be a Missouri Tiger. I told him that Columbia, Missouri is my home,” he said. “He like jumped off his chair, and he was really proud. He brought in the whole defensive staff and told them I was committed. Everyone was excited and welcomed me to the family.”
Though Pearl’s Alabamian grandparents, who were on Pearl’s visit alongside him, were pushing for their home-state Crimson Tide, the Wolves’ edge rusher said they were excited about his decision and have supported him from day one.
“They wanted me to [go to Alabama], but they were just happy about wherever I was going,” Pearl said.
Pearl had a growing list of schools knocking on his door, including traditional powers like the aforementioned Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Notre Dame.
In the end, he said, it was the Tiger staff’s continued attention to the prospect that made him feel Mizzou was where he was supposed to be. Instead of throwing an offer at him and going silent, the coaches continued to show genuine interest in their recruit.
“I really chose Mizzou due to the coaching staff. … It wasn’t just the defensive staff. It was all of the coaches,” he said. “They’ve been contacting me since the first day they started offering me, and that’s what I really appreciated. Some schools offered me, but they won’t still communicate with me and ask how I’m doing and all of that. That’s what Mizzou did from day one.”
To announce his commitment to the world, Pearl took to Twitter Monday, thanking his family, teammates and West coaching staff for helping him reach his goal.
Despite some down years on the field for the Wolves, Pearl said the West community has played a large role in shaping him as a player.
“The support is really great. … Sometimes, I’m frustrated, which is obvious. Being a really great athlete, I want us to have a great season, not just as an individual, but as a team,” he said. “They’ve supported me through the ups and downs, every day during practice, on the weekends – it’s just really great.”
In making the transition to the next level, Pearl said his only goal is to be ready to make good on the potential the Mizzou staff sees in him.
“I know, right now, I don’t have the size,” he said. “But, in the future, in the next year or two, they see me having a lot of potential to be a great player for their program.”
The newly minted future Tiger also highlighted his collegiate home’s belief in what the senior does best – getting after it off the edge.
“That’s what they really love about me – being an edge rusher and getting to the quarterback fast,” he said.
As for what he’s most excited about, Pearl said the jump in the level of competition excites him most.
“It’s just really intense. Everyone can do what other people can do when you get up to that level,” he said. “[I’m excited about] just getting better and better, learning the game more, and just being the best student-athlete I can be.”
Pearl and the Wolves will finish out the 2018 campaign with matchups against rival Plano East (7 p.m. Friday at Clark Stadium) and Allen (7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Eagle Stadium).
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