Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pearson's Goal: Be like Boselli

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pearson's Goal: Be like Boselli

Article excerpt

GAINESVILLE --- He wears the number, the same one that has been on his back since he was in eighth grade.

He knows the player, the same one who has been his idol since he first saw him play for the Jaguars in 1995.

He has the nickname given to him by his teammates, the same name of the player he aspires to be.

Baby Boselli.

"Mike Pearson," University of Florida tailback Robert Gillespie says mater-of-factly, "is going to be one of the great ones."

He already has to live up to some huge expectations. Pearson, the Gators' 19-year-old freshman left tackle, has been compared to Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli since he stepped on campus last year. They're both 6 feet 7 and wear No. 71, both weigh more than 300 pounds, and both have uncanny foot speed and wingspan for a player their size.

That, obviously, is where the similarities end.

Boselli is the best at his position in the NFL. Mike Pearson will make his third career start for the Gators this weekend --- and only after an injury forced him into his second start last week.

But oh, the potential. Even UF coach Steve Spurrier, who is cautious of praising freshmen --- especially freshman offensive linemen --- has been talking about Pearson all season.

"He's really going to be an outstanding tackle," Spurrier said.

Said UF rush end Alex Brown: "You're not going to see many better left tackles than Mike Pearson."

Which, if you're Florida quarterback Doug Johnson, is good to know. Pearson's position inherently invites the nasty side of football. His job is to protect Johnson's blind side against some of the best athletes a defense can bring.

Pearson simply smiles and winks at the defensive end lining up across from him.

"Some of them look at you, some of them will wink back, some of them will get mad and do a little trash talk," Pearson said. "I don't talk much, I just let my play do my talking for me."

He'll be playing much more now since the season-ending injury to senior guard Ryan Kalich. …

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