It was a long road for cornerback Pierre Desir. But in 2014, the Lindenwood product reached the top of the mountain.
His NFL dream had come true.
In the 4th round, Desir was selected 127th overall by the Cleveland Browns, a team who in the first round, selected the top ranked CB in the draft, Justin Gilbert. This pick turned out to be Cleveland’s last in the draft, and it was a steal of a pick. Predicted to be a second rounder, Cleveland used their last pick in the 2014 draft (after making trades ensuring more picks next year) to select him, despite selecting Justin Gilbert in the first round.
He not only adds depth to a younger and stronger secondary, but he’s brought a lot of talent to the table as he develops into an NFL pro with each passing week.
Desir was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on September 8th, 1990. At the age of four, he emigrated to the United States. He went to high school at Francis Howell Central, a high school in Cottleville, Missouri. It was there Pierre Desir showed how great of an athlete he was under the Friday night lights, breaking numerous school records in both football and track (some of which still stand to this day). He was first-team all-league during his junior and senior seasons, and is considered to be the greatest athlete in the school’s history.
After graduating high school, Desir attended Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Issues arose in 2011 when Desir wanted to transfer, but couldn’t due to the school not letting him, thus sitting out that season.
Why did he want to transfer? To be closer to his family.
Pierre is married with two kids, and being closer to them was important to him, and rightfully so.
He eventually started playing football at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. And he didn’t lose a step when he got on that football field.
In 2014, Desir was awarded the inaugural Cliff Harris Award, which is given to the best small-school defensive player. In 44 games, he registered 172 tackles, 27 passes defensed, 25 interceptions, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three sacks.
Browns coach Mike Pettine has seen a lot of progress in Desir, unlike their first-round corner from last season, Justin Gilbert, and on the team’s depth chart, has listed him (Desir) backing up one of the best corners in the game in Joe Haden.
During his first season with the Browns, Desir spent a lot of the time on the bench, as he began to be accustomed to the defense he was now a part of. But late in the season, with injuries to Haden and Gilbert, the call was made for Desir to make his first start, against the Carolina Panthers. In the game, he recorded seven tackles and held top Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin to under 25 yards.
That was about as much notable playing time as he had seen in his rookie campaign, in which the Browns posted their best record (7-9) since 2007.
But during this season, he has been featured in much more of a capacity. Over the past two weeks, Desir has started against Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning, and while both games were losses (one in overtime), coach Pettine made it clear after the San Diego game that he has been putting on good performances.
“He is playing pretty well,” coach Pettine told www.cleveland.com. “I know he regrets the one play where he didn’t get a good jam on the line of scrimmage and gave up the touchdown to Allen. Pierre has played a lot of snaps and he was prepared.”
When speaking to www.cleveland.com about preparing for Manning and the Broncos, Desir himself mentioned his routine involving his position coach, Jeff Hafley.
“The message was really keep working on getting better,” said Desir. “He (Hafley) told me what I needed to work on and he helped me with a plan to get to that point. There were a lot of things I had to learn coming from a small school… he created a plan for me to go on to the next level.”
On Sunday’s 26-23 overtime loss to the Broncos, Desir had a career high 12 tackles, and defended four passes.
This week, the Browns (2-4) head to St.Louis to play the St. Louis Rams (2-3), marking Desir’s first NFL game in St. Louis, as his family (his father in-law is a track coach at his old high school), friends, schoolmates and more watch from the stands to see a man living his dream after going through the tribulations to get there.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)