Lavon “Von” Pearson has taken a different road to Knoxville than most. A high school standout, Pearson received zero offers from major programs after failing to reach academic requirements. Out of football and working at a local Newport News, Va. McDonald’s, Pearson was urged by a friend to enroll at Feather River College in Quincy, California. Two weeks later, the former fast food cashier began his journey across country to eventually become a 2013 junior college All-American and conference MVP.

Pearson played two seasons at Feather River College, beginning in 2012. His first season saw him record 39 receptions for 757 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last season, Pearson posted a JUCO-best 93 receptions for 1,601 yards and 12 touchdowns. He holds or shares every Feather River receiving record, including single-season receptions (93), career receptions (132), single-season receiving yards (1,601), career receiving yards (2,358), single-season touchdowns (12) and career touchdowns (22). Pearson had more than 200 receiving yards in a game on five occasions, including a career-best and school record 311 yards on 19 receptions with three touchdowns vs. Sierra (9/14/13).

Tennessee was the first major program to offer Pearson a scholarship and the four-star JUCO transfer acted immediately, shutting down his recruitment shortly after. Pearson enrolled early this past January and has already impressed coaches with his skills and worth ethic.

“He comes every day with energy and passion,” offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian told UTSports. “Frankly, it’s pretty infectious. I love being around him. He’s a guy that the other newcomers have rallied around to try and get the lay of the land. Not so much that he’s a junior college player, but just his life experience.”

The comparison that will inevitably be made by Vol fans is Pearson to former JUCO transfer and Tennessee standout Cordarrelle Patterson. Though Pearson and the current Minnesota Vikings pro bowler have similar attributes, including standing at 6-3, the two players vary from one another. Patterson has a slight speed advantage and a bigger frame while Pearson has superior hands and ball skills. It’s too soon to say whether Pearson will match the Patterson’s stellar season at Tennessee, but heading into his first season with the Vols, expectations should be high.