The Miami Hurricanes have a little secret they’d rather no one else knew about. The problem is that it’s becoming harder and harder to keep it quiet.
Perhaps if Miami football coaches had discovered elite linebacker Jesiah Pierre a little later in his high school football career, their cloak-and-dagger charade would not have been necessary.
Pierre is the No. 1 player in the Orlando Sentinel 2019 Central Florida Super60, which is being released for the first time today. He’s the complete package of athleticism, size, strength, talent and intelligence. More college recruiters are getting wind of his unique skills and he’s expected to be pursued by national title contenders.
Fortunately for Miami, Pierre is the kind of person whose word might mean more to him than anything else. It’s why the Hurricanes coaching staff remains optimistic that Pierre, who committed to play for The U prior to his sophomore season, will keep his promise.
There is one word most often used to describe Pierre, who terrorizes offenses for tiny Mount Dora Christian Academy. Sure, he’s an elite football talent and there are many words that can be used to describe the 6-foot-3, 220-pound standout’s physical attributes, but more than anything else, his coach says Pierre is loyal.
His loyalty is also the main reason Pierre remains at the little Mount Dora school, where he is poised to start his junior year.
“When I talk about Jesiah to other people, I often say I hope I have a son that turns out like him one day,” Mount Dora Chrisitan head coach Kolby Tackett. “He is so loyal. When he says he loves you, he means it.
“A lot of kids might probably go look for the next best thing, but Jesiah doesn’t because he loves it here. This is a part of who he is. He’s pretty special.”
When asked how difficult it will be to keep his Miami commitment as more and more schools find out about him, Pierre just flashes a huge, sheepish grin. He says he hasn’t thought about it much.
When he says it, it’s believable.
That’s just how he is.
Miami assistant coaches, namely Ephraim Banda and Manny Diaz, found out about Pierre after his freshman season, so they ventured out to Lake County to get a look at the star-in-the-making during the spring of last year.
The coaches were amazed by his talent. They kept tabs on him. They knew they were onto something big.
“I was at a state track meet and my coach told me Miami was going to, ‘come and see you a little bit.’ … Take pictures, see my body size,” Pierre said. “Later on I received a mail that [and] I got invited to a camp.
“So I went to the camp they invited me to and I got offered there. That was might first offer and really a blessing. I thank Miami very much for that and I’m so grateful for it to this day.”
He was so grateful and so struck by that weekend visit to Miami that he decided to commit to play for the Hurricanes.
“We toured the campus. My mom really liked it. My brothers, my sister … they really liked the campus. ... I thought it would be like a great fit,” Pierre said.
And suddenly a kid who had only played football for two years was committed to play for one of the most storied college football programs in the country.
“I just started to know about Miami that summer,” Pierre said. “I started playing football in eighth grade, so I didn’t really know much about colleges or all this, like how recruiting works. I was still new to everything.”
Pierre was the first commitment to the Hurricanes’ 2019 recruiting class. Now they just hope to keep him.
He’s picked up more attention recently and has offers from North Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky in the past month.
“I’m grateful that those colleges look. I’m still looking around to see what’s out there, as well,” Pierre said. “It’s really fun to go look around those other colleges and see how they are. It’s just a fun recruiting process and I really enjoy it.”
Then he was asked, “But what if, say, Alabama comes along and offers a scholarship?”
“I have no idea how to respond to that,” Pierre said, his grin just getting wider and wider.
He doesn’t seem to be the type of player who would decommit. Then again, Alabama is tough to ignore. As would be Florida or FSU or Clemson.
Pierre still didn’t have an answer.
He’s committed to Miami and that’s how he sees it.
“I think he is very appreciative of the people who first took a chance on him. I think it meant a lot to him that someone offered him a scholarship that young,” Tackett said. “I think it really did move him. He told me when they first offered him that he broke down because he just really didn’t expect it.
“I’m not going to say whether he’s going to stay with it or not. It’s not for me to say, but like I said, Jesiah is a very loyal person.”
Pierre looks for similar loyalty in return, which is why Miami has a pretty good shot at seeing him eventually wearing the orange and green.
“What I honestly look for in a school is that they care about their athletes and is their program based on family? … will they always teach you about life lessons and what’s after football?” Pierre said. “… those schools that just show love and support and they know what’s right, what’s wrong and they make you a better person, not just a better player.”
Article originally from Orlando Sentinel.