could be taken
at the top of
pro day on March
blogs were flirting with the idea that the pass-rusher could be a potential first-round draft pick. Not since Aaron Mitchell of the 1975-1976 COC football team, who was drafted in the second round, 55th overall, of the 1979 NFL Draft has a Cougar been so highly touted.
Pierre-Paul practically dropped into COC’s lap. After receiving a scholarship to the University of Central Florida, Pierre-Paul had trouble qualifying academically to join the Knights’ football team.
Following the lead of his Deerfield High School teammate, quarterback Brad McClellan, Pierre-Paul trekked across the United States to Santa Clarita, Calif.
After spending only two years playing high school football, the defensive end was in need of some refinement when he came to play with the Cougars.
“Jason always had the athletic body to be successful on the football field,” Tujague said. “At first he was not used to having to play through the soreness during the week, but was already ready to play on Saturday. After getting over the mental toughness, his body followed suit and he became the dominant player that he is today. He is definitely the biggest and best athlete that I have ever coached. He’s a freak of nature in a good way.”
During his freshman year, he recorded 49 tackles, 42 solo, a team-high 14 sacks for a loss of 101 yards and an interception. For his efforts he was named first-team all-conference.
But the dominating defensive end would not play another season at COC.
The expense of living across the country away from his family, in one of the most expensive states in the nation, finally took its toll on Pierre-Paul. With limited financial resources, he was forced to move closer to home.
“I had to leave College of the Canyons, but I learned that no matter where you go, you can be a great football player even if times are rough,” Pierre-Paul said. “Coach Tujague taught me how to stay focused.”
He found his second home in as many years at Fort Scott Community College, in Fort Scott, Kan., which could offer Pierre-Paul a scholarship to cover tuition, books and room and board. At Fort Scott he had 67 tackles, including 50 solo and 10 sacks during the 2008 season. He was also named second-team All-American.
His natural explosiveness led the well-traveled football player back to his home state of Florida, where he joined the University of South Florida, but not for long.
After amassing 45 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, and a team-high seven hurries, the junior declared for the NFL Draft on Jan. 6, giving up his senior year of eligibility with the Bulls.
The junior received even more notoriety in the main stream media when the USF’s Bulls Vision caught Pierre-Paul and his teammate in a contest to see who could do the most backflips during a practice. The nimble defensive end hit 14 consecutive back handsprings, showing off even more of his athleticism and a talent that he learned when he was a young child.
The video has become so popular that it has earned more than 450,000 hits on YouTube and has the sports bloggers buzzing about the former Cougar.
As the draft gets closer and closer Pierre-Paul’s potential draft position has risen since he declared to forgo his senior year. His professional career fate is just a few weeks away and when asked where he wants to end up, he notes the typical draftee answer, “Whichever team will take me.”
The story of Pierre-Paul will not end with the NFL draft and a potentially promising future in the professional ranks. He notes that he will be heading back to school in the upcoming off season where he hopes to earn his degree in criminology.