Old Dominion University wide receiver Larry Pinkard put together his best season to date in 2013, leading the Monarchs with 68 receptions for 1,020 yards and tying for a team-best nine touchdown catches. However, it was the work that he put into the off-season that caught everyone’s attention leading up to the 2013 season.
“What impressed me most about Larry starting with last offseason is that he made a decision that he’s going to be the best player he can be. It started with his level of competitiveness. Larry has always been very competitive on game day, but what he did last year was he took it to another level off the field,” ODU Head Coach Bobby Wilder said. “Everyone around the program saw it, the players, coaches, he earned Elite Monarchs status, which means he was at the top of the list with not only what he did in the weight room, but what he did on the field.”
Pinkard flourished last spring as he finished with a team-high vertical jump of 37.5 and finished second in the pro shuttle and 40-yard dash.
“I believe the harder you grind, the better chance you have to shine. That is basically my motto,” Pinkard said. “I want to be one of those who stands out on the field.”
The 2013 season was the first time in ODU history playing an FBS program, starting with East Carolina and playing five total FBS games. In those games, Pinkard seemed to elevate his level of play to an even higher mark. In those five games, he caught 35 passes for 405 yards, catching seven or more balls in all but one of those contests. Overall, his 6.5 catches per game ranked him 26th in the nation in receptions per game.
“You have a little more build-up in those games, where you’re like ok, I’m playing a bigger school, not supposed to be able to play with these guys,” Pinkard said.
Pinkard, who pulled down half of his 68 receptions against FBS competition, definitely noticed a difference between the five FBS and seven FCS opponents ODU played in 2013.
Wilder concurred with Pinkard’s sentiment about the build-up against the FBS teams, and how he seemed to raise his level of play, not only against the bigger schools, but also the bigger moments.
“One of the things I’ve always respected about Larry is the bigger the game, the more competitive he is. He wants to play against the best team, the best defensive back,” Wilder said. “He’s always looking over at me on the sidelines in a big moment, making sure that I know he wants the ball. If we can get everybody on this team to be as competitive as Larry, we’re going to be a better football team.”
As spring practice and the 2014 season approaches, the opportunity will come for Pinkard and ODU’s 20 seniors to compete in the Monarchs’ first season in Conference USA.
“I expect Larry will break a lot of records in our off-season program and I expect him to be the best he’s ever been,” Wilder said.
Pinkard set a high standard for himself in 2013 with career-highs in receptions and receiving yards, placing him just 31 receptions and 351 yards away from breaking Nick Mayers’ receiving records. Teammate Antonio Vaughan is not far behind Mayers either, as is fellow senior teammate Blair Roberts. The trio gave ODU one of just 10 FBS teams in the country, to have three players catch 45 or more passes in the 2013 season.
“We help each other, we are competitive, but we want each other to be successful both on and off the field,” Pinkard said.