Reggie Pearson embracing role as tone-setter

Sep. 9—Even after a 15-yard penalty gave Arkansas State its first, first down of the game, Reggie Pearson could tell from the looks on his teammates' faces that he had just set the tone.

Red Wolves' quarterback J.T. Shrout scrambled out of the pocket on a third-and-10 and neared the first down mark as he approached the sideline. Shrout made a quick cut to gain the extra yard, but was de-cleated by Pearson as he stepped past the boundary.

It was a bang-bang play, though many personal foul calls of that nature are, but Pearson had just made his presence felt for the first time since transferring from Oklahoma from Texas Tech.

Then, on the very next play, he did it again.

Coming from his safety position, Pearson came barreling down the middle on a blitz and tripped up the running back for a one-yard loss.

"(I) came back the next play to let my team know that like, I got y'all," Pearson said on Monday. "I know what I did, we lost a couple of yards. It's whatever. I'm gonna get it back."

The Red Wolves threw incompletions on their next two plays and were forced to punt back to the Sooners.

The Sooners' defense only allowed three drives to go longer than four plays in Saturday's 73-0 win and only allowed six of Arkansas State's 13 offensive drives to go for longer than 10 yards.

The Red Wolves' passing attack was held to just 13 completions on 27 passes (48%) for 160 yards. The Sooners' secondary allowed 110 of those yards on just four plays.

"Really like the group," OU head coach Brent Venables said about the safety room. "They're athletic, they're very competitive, they're instinctual."

Pearson started his college career at Wisconsin before transferring to Texas Tech. With the Red Raiders he started 20 games in two seasons and was an All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2021.

He joined a safety unit that already had experience in senior Key Lawrence. Former consensus four-star recruit Robert Spears-Jennings has been impressing coaches during the offseason, but has missed time due to a shoulder surgery.

At free safety, Billy Bowman has 17 starts in two seasons and was sixth on the team in tackles (60) and second in interceptions (three) last year despite missing two games due to injury.

Pearson was particularly impressed with the play of freshman Peyton Bowen, who finished tied for first on the team with three solo tackles in his debut against Arkansas State.

"He came to play," Pearson said. "He did his thing. Tackled very well. No mental errors, and (I'm) proud of him."

Now the Sooners' secondary turns their attention to an SMU offense that ranked 12th in scoring offense, 14th in total offense and seventh in passing offense last season.

Quarterback Preston Stone is coming off just his second FBS start in a season-opening win over Louisiana Tech, but the redshirt sophomore had the offense rolling in a 38-14 win. Stone completed 23 of 37 passes for 248 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions to help the Mustangs jump out to a 31-0 halftime lead.

"They have a group of guys that have played a lot of ball, seen a lot of stuff, and they want to make a name for themselves," Venables said about SMU. "I expect their best, and I expect our guys' best as well."

Tarik Masri is the sports editor for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing