Hard-hitting Badgers safety Pearson shows off playmaking ability

Reggie Pearson played in four games in 2018, allowing him to keep his redshirt and remain a freshman in 2019.

In his limited playing time, Pearson had five tackles, one for a loss, and a forced fumble. He also displayed a propensity for big hits not seen from a Wisconsin strong safety since Jay Valai.

Entering Saturday, Pearson had 12 tackles and two forced fumbles – the big hits continuing – but only .5 tackles for loss and one pass defensed.

That changed against Illinois.

Pearson had five tackles, two for loss and two others for gains of just one and two yards. He also broke up three passes, two of which came on third-down plays.

Since 2005 (as far back as detailed defensive game statistics are available), Pearson is the only Wisconsin player with three PBU and two TFL in the same game. It’s only happened 74 times since 2005 in all of FBS (four of those came against FCS opponents), including only two other occasions this season: Florida’s Jonathan Greenard vs. Tennessee on Sept. 21 and Utah State’s Andre Grayson vs Nevada, also this past Saturday. Unlike Pearson, though, both of those players had a sack account for one of their tackles for loss.

Pearson was the 37th player since 2005 to have three PBU and two TFL with no sacks since 2005, the first against an FBS opponent in two years and the first in a matchup of Power 5 schools since 2014.

The redshirt freshman also was just the 17th Badger (its happened 23 times overall) to have three PBU in a game since ’05; Nick Nelson was the last to do it when he had four at Indiana on Nov. 4, 2017 and Mike Caputo the last safety, when he had four vs. Hawaii on Sept. 26, 2015.

Pearson is the only freshman among that group of 17. It sure looks like Wisconsin it’s strong safety set in place for the next few years. And expect him to fill the stat sheet.

Here’s the complete rundown of the young Badgers after seven games:

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“TRUE” FRESHMEN
Keeanu Benton, NT
South Florida: 2 tackles (solo), TFL
Central Michigan: Started, 1 tackle (solo), TFL
Michigan: Started, 1 tackle, QBH
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Started, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: 4 tackles (2 solo), 2 TFL, QBH

 

Clay Cundiff, TE
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Did not play
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Leo Chenal, LB
South Florida: 5 tackles (3 solo)
Central Michigan: 4 tackles (4 solo)
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: 3 tackles (3 solo), sack, TFL, FR
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: 12 tackles (10 solo), sack, TFL, FR

 

Quan Easterling, FB
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Did not play
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Semar Melvin, CB
South Florida: 1 tackle (solo)
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Did not play
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: 1 tackle (solo)

 

Graham Mertz, QB
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: 4-of-5 passing, 35 yards
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: 5-of-5 passing, 38 yards; 2 rush, 6 yards
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: 9-of-10 passing, 73 yards; 2 rush, 6 yards

 

Have not played
Peter Bowden, LS; Stephan Bracey, WR; Logan Brown, OL; Dante Caputo, S; Julius Davis, RB; Jordan DiBenedetto, WR; Dean Engram, CB; Tatum Grass, LB; Rodas Johnson, DE; Jackson Kollath, LB; Spencer Lytle, LB; Cooper Nelson, QR; Maema Njongmeta, LB; Logan O’Brien, OL; Gio Paez, NT; Cam Phillips, WR; Hayden Rucci, TE; Joe Tippmann, OL; Titus Toler, LB; Blake Wilcox, K; James Williams, CB.

 

REDSHIRT FRESHMEN
A.J. Abbott, WR
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: 1 tackle (solo)
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: 1 tackle (solo)

 

Donte Burton, CB
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: 1 tackle (solo)
Michigan: PBU
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: 1 tackle (solo)
Michigan State: Started, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Started, PBU
Season totals: 2 tackles (2 solo), 2 PBU

 

Boyd Dietzen, DE
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Jack Eschenbach, TE
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Jaylan Franklin, OLB
South Florida: 1 tackle (solo), sack, TFL
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: 1 tackle (solo), sack, TFL

 

Michael Furtney, OL
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

C.J. Goetz, DE
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Andrew Lyons, OL
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Isaiah Mullens, DE
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Taj Mustapha, WR
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Did not play
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Reggie Pearson, S
South Florida: Started, 1 tackle (solo), FF
Central Michigan: Started, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Started, 3 tackles (2 solo), .5 TFL, FF
Northwestern: 1 tackle (solo), PBU
Kent State: Started, 3 tackles (3 solo)
Michigan State: Started, 4 tackles (3 solo)
Illinois: Started, 5 tackles (4 solo), 2 TFL, 3 PBU
Season stats: 17 tackles (14 solo), 2 FF, 4 PBU, 2.5 TFL

 

Cormac Sampson, OL/TE
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Brady Schipper, RB
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: 6 rush, 21 yards
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: 6 rush, 21 yards

 

Alexander Smith, CB
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: 1 tackle (solo), PBU
Kent State: 2 tackles (2 solo)
Michigan State: 1 tackle (solo)
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season stats: 4 tackles (4 solo), PBU

 

Marty Strey, OLB
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Jack Torchio, S
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: INT, PBU
Northwestern: Started, 1 tackle (solo)
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: 1 tackle (solo)
Illinois: Did not play
Season stats: 2 tackles (2 solo), INT, PBU

 

Nakia Watson, RB
South Florida: 14 rush, 80 yards, TD
Central Michigan: 8 rush, 29 yards, TD; 1 catch, 0 yards
Michigan: 13 rush, 31 yards
Northwestern: 1 rush, 1 yard; 1 tackle
Kent State: 12 rush, 63 yards; 1 catch, 6 yards
Michigan State: 5 rush, 34 yards
Illinois: 2 rush, 9 yards
Season stats: 55 rush, 247 yards (4.5 average), 2 TD; 2 catches, 6 yards

 

Chase Wolf, QB
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: 1-for-1 passing, 2 yards
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Did not play
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Season stats: 1-for-1 passing, 2 yards


Have not played
Travian Blaylock, CB; Mike Gregoire, WR; Isaac Guerendo, RB; Jacob Heyroth, ILB; Conor Schlichting, P.

 

Best of the Badgers

 

“TRUE” SOPHOMORES

John Chenal, FB
South Florida: 1 rush, 2 yards; 1 catch, 12 yards; 1 tackle (solo), FF
Central Michigan: 3 rush, 11 yards; 1 catch, 2 yards
Michigan: 2 rush, 5 yards, TD
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: 4 rush, 24 yards
Michigan State: Started, 4 rush, 17 yards; 1 catch, 1 yard
Illinois: 3 rush, 3 yards
Season totals: 17 rush, 62 yards (3.6 average), 2 TD; 2 catches, 3 yards, 1 tackle (solo), FF

 

Aron Cruickshank, WR
South Florida: 1 kick return, 23 yards
Central Michigan: 1 catch, 19 yards; 2 punt returns, 14 yards
Michigan: 1 kick return, 11 yards
Northwestern: 2 kick returns, 69 yards
Kent State: 2 rush, 6 yards; 2 catches, 10 yards
Michigan State: 2 rush, 28 yards; 1 kick return, 38 yards
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: 4 rush, 34 yards; 2 catches, 10 yards; 5 kick returns, 141 yards (28.2 average); 2 punt returns, 14 yards

 

Jack Sanborn, LB
South Florida: Started, 5 tackles (2 solo)
Central Michigan: Started, 1 tackle, INT, QBH
Michigan: Started, 7 tackles (5 solo), 2 TFL, sack, FF
Northwestern: Started, 13 tackles (7 solo), TFL, PBU
Kent State: Started, 2 tackles (2 solo), 2 sacks, 2 TFL
Michigan State: Started, 5 tackles (3 solo), TFL
Illinois: Started, 7 tackles (4 solo). .5 TFL. QBH
Season totals: 40 tackles (23 solo), 3 sacks, 6.5 TFL, INT, 2 QBH, PBU, FF

 

Rachad Wildgoose, CB
South Florida: 2 tackles (solo)
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: PBU
Northwestern: 3 tackles (3 solo), 2 TFL
Kent State: Started, 3 tackles (2 solo)
Michigan State: Started, INT
Illinois: Started, 2 tackles (2 solo)
Season totals: 9 tackles (8 solo), 2 TFL, PBU, INT

 

Bryson Williams, NT
South Florida: 1 tackle (solo)
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: 4 tackles (1 solo)
Season totals: 5 tackles (2 solo)

 

Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns