Grayson’s Ean Pemberton doesn’t play on a football field. For the Rams’ 5-foot-4, 155-pound dynamo of a running back, that 6,600-square-yard patch of grass is a giant green proving ground.
Every time he steps on it, he has something to prove.
“I’m still trying to show everybody I can play with the big boys,” Pemberton said with a big grin after showing it again this past weekend. “I’m just trying to keep proving myself and make believers out of people that don’t believe it. I’m trying to prove them wrong.”
The general consensus is that a guy Pemberton’s size can’t play major college football. And to date, no BCS teams have come calling on the Rams’ senior star.
But all Pemberton does is keep putting up big numbers while playing in one of the toughest regions of the state’s highest high school classification, Region 8-AAAAA. That was the case again this past Friday night as Pemberton piled up 148 yards on 25 carries and scored three touchdowns in just two-and-a-half quarters of work in a 44-0 win over Dacula.
I finally got a chance to get a look at the guy his Grayson teammates call “Pinball” against Dacula this past Friday. I watched Pemberton zip through a wide-open hole for one six-yard touchdown, saw him blast through the middle on a trap play and outrun the Dacula secondary for a 48-yard score and then saw him plow through a clog of bodies into the end zone from three yards out for yet another six points. Pemberton lined up as a tailback deep in the backfield, as a halfback to one side or another and occasionally at wingback. He did not have a negative-yardage carry in the game.
“Dacula’s a scrappy bunch,” Pemberton said afterward. “They get after it on defense. I didn’t think we’d be able to do what we did tonight.”
There were recruiters from two schools there at Dacula’s Barron Stadium to witness Pemberton’s performance Friday night: Division II’s West Georgia and Furman of the Football Championship Division (FCS, formerly I-AA). Pemberton said he has been hearing a lot from schools like that, including Georgia Southern and Georgia State. He said he’s gotten loads of form letters from BCS schools but nothing more.
“The main thing with Ean is recruiters are looking at the wrong thing,” said Grayson teammate Joseph Champaign, a prospect himself at defensive end. “They don’t need to be looking at his size, they need to be looking at his heart. Ean has an enormous heart. He has great talent and plays with great emotion. He’s fast, he’s strong. We call him ‘Pinball Ean’ because of the way he bounces around in there. He’s a tough kid and has a great work ethic and puts the team first.”
Pemberton’s stated goal is merely to play college football on scholarship for somebody somewhere. That’s why he works so hard in the weight room. That’s why he he hasn’t missed a workout or a practice in two seasons.
“I hope something comes from it,” Pemberton said. “I’ll play anywhere I’m able to play.”
For now, the Grayson Rams are glad it’s with them.