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Throwback Thursday: Catching up with Virginia Football’s Alvin Pearman

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Welcome to a new weekly series at Streaking the Lawn!

Virginia v Georgia Tech Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Sometimes, we lose track of our favorite Virginia athletes after they finish school and go out into the world. We’re starting a new series at Streaking the Lawn where we’ll catch up with players and find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re doing now, and more!

To kick things off, we chatted with Alvin Pearman, an alum of the Virginia Football program. Pearman graduated from the Curry School of Education in 2005, and played four years under head coach Al Groh from 2001-2004. He finished with 2,394 yards rushing and another 1,396 receiving for his career. Pearman rushed for 1,037 yards his fourth year, scoring 10 touchdowns with his legs for the season (good for third in the ACC in 2004). In addition to his 10 rushing TDs in 2004, Pearman had one via reception and one via a punt return.

Streaking the Lawn: So, what have you been up to since graduating?

Alvin Pearman: Life has been full. I graduated from UVA in 2005 and was draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars that year. I wound up playing in the NFL for five years—with the Jaguars, Seahawks, and Titans. I finished my career in 2010 and transitioned pretty quickly to graduate school. I completed my Ph.D. at Vanderbilt in 2017. I then took a faculty position at the University of Pittsburgh, a position I held for two years before accepting another faculty position at Stanford. I currently live in Palo Alto, teach classes and do research at Stanford, and coach my son’s little league baseball team.

STL: If you could have been an athlete in another sport at Virginia, which would you choose, and would you be a starter?

AP: I grew up loving basketball. If I somehow made UVA’s basketball team—and stuck with it for four years—I may have found my way to the court on senior night. I will say, though, that Marques Hagans, UVA’s quarterback during my senior year (and now the wide receivers coach for the football team), could have been a star on the basketball team.

STL: What is your favorite UVA sports memory, either as a fan or a player?

AP: I have so many good memories from my UVA days, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be our hook-and-ladder to beat Georgia Tech in 2001. I remember sitting on the sideline the series before our final drive. Bill Musgrave, our offensive coordinator, called down from the press box and told me that we were going to run the hook and ladder on the next drive. We had practiced the play once or twice in the prior week, but I didn’t think we would actually use it in the game. On the call, he reminded me to stay behind Billy McMullen before the pitch; otherwise the lateral would be illegal.

This reminder proved to be critical because the timing of the play wound up being slightly off, and I had to come to a complete stop so that my momentum didn’t take me past Billy before getting the ball. In the end, the play was called, and the rest was, as they say, history: Bryson Spinner threw a perfect pass to Billy, Billy pitched me the ball just before getting hit by two defenders, and I raced to the goal line untouched to win the game.

Editor’s Note: check out that play here at the 18 second mark:

STL: What are you doing during this self-isolating period to stay busy/entertained?

AP: My wife and I work full time and have three children, all elementary age, so life is quite hectic with everyone home. My daily schedule at home is basically me juggling homeschool with my kids while trying to move forward, virtually, several ongoing research projects with collaborators at other institutions, writing research papers, working on article revisions, and preparing to teach two classes, which I will also do from home now that Stanford has moved all Spring classes online. Some of these adjustments have been tough, but we are doing our best to take everything in stride and be grateful for our health and for the extra time we have with each other.

STL: What was your favorite class in undergrad?

AP: I took many great classes at UVA, but one that sticks in my mind was a sports psychology class I took during my 2nd year. What was unique about this class was the timing. I happened to take the class the same semester that I tore my ACL. As a result, I was able to apply to my rehab some of the ideas we studied in class. Things like outcome imagery—the idea that simply envisioning a specific skill can improve performance on that particular skill—became a part of my daily rehab.

STL: Which coach or teacher had the greatest impact on you while at UVA?

AP: I had a wonderful opportunity to learn from and interact with some incredible teachers and coaches while I was at UVA. I will say, though, that the most impactful relationship I had was with Coach Al Groh. He taught me about competition, leadership, sacrifice, and preparation. In fact, he and I have stayed in touch over the years, and he has remained a great mentor and friend. Our conversations today don’t have much to do with football. We talk about life, family, and work. But the lessons are the same.

STL: Do you have any career advice to current students or recent alumni?

AP: It feels wrongheaded to offer career advice during a pandemic. In that spirit, I think it is important to remember the simple things. Times like these are good reminders that our lives are very much tied together. Remembering to be a good neighbor and a kind person is very important in a moment like this.

STL: What do you see that current UVA student-athletes have on Grounds that you wish you had? (facilities, resources, coach)

AP: Carla Williams has done a tremendous job at the helm of UVA athletics. She has elevated the UVA brand and expanded the resources available to current student athletes. The new facilities, new equipment, new programs, and new buses are first class in every way. That said, for all the new things that current UVA student-athletes have, they don’t get to sit in UHall and watch Sean Singletary throw lobs to Jason Clark, or watch Ryan Zimmerman and Mark Reynolds homer in Wahoo uniforms, or debate which Elton Brown was the better athlete, or watch Katie Bunch and the women’s soccer team win the program’s first ACC championship. I will take these memories over all the things any day.

STL: What is your favorite Charlottesville restaurant?

AP: Bodos. No question.


Huge thanks to Alvin for taking the time out to chat with us. Stay tuned next week for another Throwback Thursday!