Doug Pederson is a household name amongst football fans. The city of Philadelphia is permanently indebted to Pederson for the joy that his team brought them in February of 2018 and he is depicted in a statue outside of Lincoln Financial Field. But this isn’t another story about Doug Pederson, “the Philly Special,” or the Philadelphia Eagles. This is a story about Doug’s son Josh Pederson, who has been working tirelessly to make sure football fans know his name.
Despite growing up with football all around him, Josh Pederson didn’t begin playing football until his junior year at Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, Kansas. Andy Sims, the head coach of the football team at Blue Valley North, asked Josh to consider joining the football team for his junior year. It was ultimately thoughts about his older brother Drew that convinced Josh to start playing. Drew’s high school football career ended abruptly because of a serious ankle injury the year prior. “Seeing how my older brother’s injury affected him emotionally made me want to start playing because I wanted to reach the love for the game that I saw him have. I wanted him to be able to finish his high school career through me.”
Josh joined the football team for his junior year and immediately found the love for the game that his brother expressed. He excelled as a pass-catching tight end and became “obsessed” with the game like his father and brother before him. Over merely two seasons as a starter, he accumulated the fourth-most receptions and receiving yards in school history. He became a highly coveted recruit and chose a scholarship from his father’s alma mater University of Louisiana-Monroe.
Pederson redshirted during his first year at ULM but started in every season after. He broke out in his junior year when he totaled 43 receptions and nine touchdowns over 12 games. After every game, the first phone call that he received was from his dad. “The best part of having him in my corner was that he was the first or second person I would get a call from after every game. After ‘great game’ or ‘congrats,’ It was always ‘let’s talk about how you played while it’s fresh.’ He would point out what I did well and tell me how I can correct certain mistakes. Those conversations were so beneficial and made me such a better player.”
Josh’s final season at ULM was riddled with adversity. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, two major hurricanes hit Louisiana at the beginning of the season. The ULM facilities did not have power for two weeks, and some members of the football team were forced to live in hotels. These challenges made preparing for the season extremely difficult. “We had an uphill battle just to get to the season.”
ULM finished the 2020 season 0-10. “It was a true test to see who really loved the game of football. It was a grind, to say the least, but it has made me a stronger person and I will never take winning for granted.” Josh credits his position coach Zack Muller for helping him stay positive. “He had so many one-liners about battling through adversity. I’ll definitely take those with me from ULM.”
Scouts from several teams have already conducted Zoom meetings with Josh, which shows the high level of interest in him as an NFL prospect. It’s becoming increasingly more likely that he will hear his name called on day three of the NFL Draft. At 6’5, Josh possesses ideal size for the tight end position in the NFL. He has experience lining up in the slot and as an end man on the line of scrimmage. He considers his strengths to be his ability to catch the ball, his short-area quickness, and his route running. As the son-of-a-coach would, Josh was quick to point out that he is working to improve his blocking by adding strength and improving his hand placement. Despite his success to this point, Josh is confident that he can still become a much better football player. “I have a lot more that I can prove.”
Josh has been training in Davie, Florida preparing for his pro day. He works out six days per week to improve his strength, speed, and route running. After each workout, he watches film of himself with the coaches at the facility. His regiment includes early mornings and late nights, but he is extremely appreciative of the opportunity. “Monday through Saturday It’s a grind, but I love it. I’m seven weeks in and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. I could be sitting at a desk right now or still in school so I’m really enjoying what I’m doing.”
Josh’s unofficial introduction to the football field came as a ball boy for Calvary Baptist Academy, his Dad’s first head coaching job. In a few short months, he will officially be introduced to the National Football League. Josh may never earn a statute, but he is determined for football fans to learn his name.
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