Corona del Sol alum Ricky Pearsall selected No. 31 overall by 49ers

Apr. 26—Ricky Pearsall said he was surprised to see the San Francisco 49ers pop up on his phone on Thursday, April 25, the first night of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Getting picked in the first round wasn't much of a shock, he admitted. Pearsall has spent his entire football career betting on himself. But there was still some shock value that the defending NFC champions were on the other end of the call for pick No. 31 overall.

"It's never a surprise for me, I would say. But it was definitely a shock to see San Francisco pop up on my phone," Pearsall said during his initial press conference with media following the first round of the draft.

"I was meeting everybody and hearing what they had to say. I'm just super excited for the opportunity and blessed to be able to do this."

Pearsall, a product of Corona del Sol High School, took risks in college throughout his career.

He was a star for the Aztecs, setting single game 6A records as a junior and brining excitement to a program that went through a couple years of struggles during his high school career. But Jon Becktold, his former head coach, said Pearsall never thought twice about transferring out — a common theme now in the high school football landscape.

Instead, Pearsall continued to grind and uplift his teammates as much as he could. Despite one, two or three-win seasons, he was always a standout on the field for his ability and leadership.

"The Rams came and asked me about a month ago if I could give them something that's not related to football," Becktold said. "I told them, 'When I got here, Ricky was going to be a junior and his freshman team, most of them had already transferred. He could've easily left. But he stuck around.'

"He could have easily went to a different school and he stuck it out. The guys from the Rams said that's awesome. I'm so happy for his family and him."

Pearsall took those same traits to Arizona State, where he became one of 21 true freshmen to appear in games for the Sun Devils in 2019. He averaged 18.3 yards per catch in his first collegiate season, finishing with seven catches for 128 yards.

He was able to get some work on offense despite a loaded group of receivers for the Sun Devils, including Brandon Aiyuk — his teammate once again on the 49ers — Frank Darby, Mountain View alum Curtis Hodges and Kyle Williams.

His sophomore season was shortened due to COVID but secured his first collegiate touchdown. In 2021, he appeared in all 13 games for the Sun Devils, averaging 12.1 yards per catch.

As was the case in high school, Pearsall bet on himself and transferred to Florida to finish his college career. He fit in the mold right away in Gainesville, appearing in all 13 games in 2022 and starting all 12 this past season.

"He called me when he told me he was going into the portal and he gave me a list of schools," Becktold said. "I told him our family is a Ricky Pearsall fan. He was going to be successful wherever he goes because of how hard he works. He's just a worker."

At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, he made a name for himself in the slot. His speed and agility allowed him to get away from defenders to find open space. Even when covered, he had the ability to go over defenders or make miraculous one-handed grabs, as he did this past season at Florida that caught national attention.

He said he doesn't specifically model his game after any current or former NFL receiver. He thinks of himself as having his own style of play.

"I like to say I'm my own player," Pearsall said. "I feel like every football player is unique in their own ways. It's just about watching film and learning from other guys."

Pending a trade, which had been rumored all off-season, Pearsall will now team up with an impressive receiver room. Aiyuk has become one of the top wideouts and deep-ball threats in the NFL over the course of his NFL career. Deebo Samuel is one of the most electrifying talents in the league.

Throwing to them is Brock Purdy, the Perry High School alum who went from Mr. Irrelevant in 2021 to one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL in just two seasons.

Pearsall and Purdy are familiar with one another. The two matched up when Perry faced Corona in 2016 — Purdy's junior season and Pearsall's sophomore year. Perry beat the Aztecs 56-21. The following year, Purdy helped the Pumas put up 70 points against the Aztecs.

"I remember him for sure because he was in the end zone a lot and threw a lot of touchdowns," Pearsall said. "I'm excited to play with him this time."

Having two players grow up down the street now part of one of the most lethal offenses in the NFL is unique.

There's no telling how much of an impact Pearsall will make immediately for the 49ers offense. Should a trade take place that ships one or two existing receivers out, his impact will likely be immediate.

But for the time being, Becktold knows Pearsall will continue to work for his opportunity. Much like what Purdy was able to do for his own career, Becktold believes Pearsall will earn a starting spot in due time.

"I think it's awesome for the state of Arizona," Becktold said of Purdy and Pearsall playing together. "Purdy is a class act, a great kid. He did all that stuff for that program and Ricky did the same at Corona. Now you have two kids from Arizona."

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