Speculating on Kale Pearson’s future, considering we don’t even know the full extent of the Air Force quarterback’s knee injury, might seem a bit silly. That’s OK, humor us.
Here are some of the potential scenarios and decisions that Pearson and Air Force might face in the coming months and years.
1. It’s a semi-minor injury and he returns this year
While this seems unlikely, it certainly hasn’t been ruled out publically. Troy Calhoun has said ACL damage was “a part of the injury,” but has said surgery has not been scheduled. That might be because swelling needs to go down – immediate knee surgeries are rare – or could be simply because the damage is not that severe. Pearson hasn’t missed any class time because of the injury, so if it’s just a matter of a month or two, his career might go on as planned.
2. He’s out for the year and is granted an extra semester
The NCAA would assuredly grant Pearson a medical redshirt for this season if he doesn’t play again, as his injury occurred in just the second quarter of the season. The bigger question would be if Air Force would grant him an extra semester, as it has on many occasions (last year’s quarterback Connor Dietz was an example, as is offensive lineman Michael Husar from this current team).
“It’s a no-brainer,” coach Troy Calhoun said. “Just any time there’s something that can involve a surgery that can take a while for rehabilitation, to me it comes down to the concern for the well-being and health for your personnel.
“It’s as blatant and obvious as it gets if the cadets matter, and here they matter.”
3. That extra semester is granted as an option, and…
…Jaleel Awini struggles this year
Pearson beat out Awini for the starting position once, so there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t be able to do it again. With the injury occurring so early, he would probably be back by spring practice and at full strength by fall camp. Particularly if Awini and/or Karson Roberts fails to thrive in the role this year, it would likely be an open competition once again.
…Jaleel Awini emerges as a star
Pearson was initially recruited as a wide receiver, so if the sophomore Awini becomes a star quarterback this season, it might make more sense to move Pearson could move back to that position rather than mess with a proven commodity behind center. Antwaan Randle El and Kordell Stewart jump to mind as quarterbacks with diversified skill sets that were utilized in other positions. At the college level, Kerry Meier started eight games at quarterback for Kansas in 2006, lost the position the following year, became a receiver and set numerous school records (including 97 receptions in a season) and was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Pearson doesn’t have Meier’s size, but he could be a great fit as a slot receiver after Ty MacArthur graduates.
…he refuses it
The possibility that coaches haven’t yet mentioned is, what if Pearson simply toughs out this semester (surgery or not) and opts not to extend his time at the academy. It’s not an easy life and the thought of beginning his post-graduation commitment sooner rather than later might be appealing. He would still have his senior season to play football and then move forward as an officer in the Air Force.
Clearly there are a number of ways this could play out, and we’ll definitely be following the developments along the way.