Pierre is ready to get back onto the fieldFARGO — Game days last fall at North Dakota State were jammed with fans in the Fargodome stands. Brendin Pierre was one of them. It’s also a place where he thought he would never be.
By: Jeff Kolpack, Forum Communications Co.
FARGO — Game days last fall at North Dakota State were jammed with fans in the Fargodome stands. Brendin Pierre was one of them.
It’s also a place where he thought he would never be.
But a rare academic slipup rendered the Bison cornerback ineligible for last season. A high school honor student who majored in mechanical engineering before switching to computer science, Pierre failed a class by 1.6 percent, he said.
One class cost him one year.
“It was my fault of course, I take the blame for it,” Pierre said. “It was a shock for me. I couldn’t get out of it and it was a learning experience.”
It was also, he said, a humbling experience.
“It got me to start focusing more on school, not just to take it for granted,” Pierre said. “No longer do I say, ‘I can just put this off.’ I need to do it now.”
Because he played as a true freshman in 2009, he didn’t lose any of his four years of eligibility. But he did spend the season on the scout team, a practice squad mostly made up of redshirt freshmen.
There’s not a lot of glory on scout team. You’re there to give the offense a mirrored look of the opposing team’s defense.
Pierre admits to having some bitterness when he first learned of his academic ineligibility. He immediately didn’t understand how a student with his grade point average wouldn’t be able to play.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was just struck by it,” he said.
He regained his eligibility this semester — the same semester NDSU played Sam Houston State (Texas) in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game in January. Pierre dressed for the game, but he and head coach Craig Bohl both agreed he wasn’t ready to play.
All it would have taken is for Pierre to step on the field for one play and his year would have been used up. More important, Pierre said, it wasn’t the right thing to do.
“I told (Bohl) I would rather earn my spot back on the field instead of just for this situation,” he said. “I didn’t want to be the special case where ‘he’ just regained his eligibility so I should just be able to play. I would rather earn my spot back in the spring.”
That’s precisely what he’s done heading into Saturday’s annual Green-Gold Spring Game. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Pierre has one cornerback spot locked down opposite of Marcus Williams. Together, they could form one of the best cornerback tandems in the FCS next fall.
He started six games as a true freshman. An arm injury interrupted his sophomore year but he still returned for the 2010 playoff push.
“Personally, I have a hunger for that title,” Pierre said. “Even though I was a part of the team last year, I felt I wasn’t part of the actual championship. I want to get on that team where I was actually part of playing on Saturdays.”
Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.