Jeffery Pittman knew the time was now or never before his first start in 2019.
The Taylorsville running back upon entering his junior season saw limited action as a freshman and sophomore.
"I knew I had to make something happen during my junior year because a few others in my class like Ty Keyes already had a head start," said Pittman. "I knew that if I wanted to get noticed, I had to play one of my best seasons then because it's harder to get noticed just based on your senior year."
Taylorsville's success over the years through the air with Ty Keyes provided Pittman with an opportunity and a challenge. The challenge was getting noticed in an offense that's mainly praised because of its success through the air.
“I gave it all I had every game,” added Pittman.
By the end of his junior season, the first-year starter led the Tartars in every single rushing category - carries, yards gained, yards per game, longest rush, games over 100 yards, and touchdowns.
"Probably our game against Scott Central in the playoffs," Pittman said. "It was 0-0 at the half. Coach [Mitch] Evans pulled me aside and told me our passing game wasn't working, so I had to make something happen. That was a moment where I had to test myself."
Taylorsville later defeated Scott Central 14-6 in the Class 2A South State Championship game on two second-half rushing touchdowns by the junior back. Pittman finished with 100 yards on 15 carries.
Pittman rushed for 100 yards or more in all five 2019 playoff games, including the team's 48-18 win over North Side in the 2A title game. He finished the season with seven total.
Over the course of his junior season, Pittman rushed for 1,421 yards on 161 carries - an average of 8.5 yards per carry. His longest rush of 80 yards came against Taylorsville’s 46-16 win over 3A powerhouse Jefferson Davis County. He finished the season with 23 rushing touchdowns and three receiving scores.
His first college offer was from Point University in mid-February, a private NAIA school out of West Point, Georgia. Community colleges, including Co-Lin, Pearl River, and East Central, followed. Amid those offers came Pittman's first Division 1 offer, Memphis University.
"It was big for me," said Pittman. "Coach [Anthony] Jones Jr. always sent me a text now and then [before they offered me]. One day I was working out, and out of the blue, he calls me. He told me that he loves how I run the ball and has watched all my film. He likes how I start and how I finish and believes I'm an excellent fit for them. Memphis does a great job of giving their running backs the ball and giving them space to run. It was a good conversation.
“It’s a blessing to see teams want me at the next level.”
With the absence of spring football and summer workouts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pittman isn’t taking days off.
"I've always worked out at home," said Pittman, "running through the neighborhood and doing pushups. Stuff like that. So all this isn't going to hurt me. My parents do a great job of pushing me and making me do these sorts of things. They always tell me to go outside and do ladder drills, etc. I have great parents who help me out. Even if or when I don't feel like doing it, they push me to do it."
Pittman refuses to make excuses ahead of time for when things start back.
"The way I look at it is that at any time it could start back, and I have to be ready," said Pittman. It's better to be ready than not to be prepared. If you're already prepared, then it's nothing to get ready for.
“I’m taking one day at a time."