If one were to hand-pick the most unlikely path to NFL draftee among this year’s group of 330 players at the NFL Combine, Lindenwood University CB Pierre Desir presents a tough case to beat.
The 23-year-old corner, who is also a husband and father of two, is the only representative from Lindenwood in Indianapolis this week. Desir, a native of Haiti, moved to St. Charles at the age of four, and returned to the area after transferring to Lindenwood from Division II Washburn University (Kansas).
As has been the case at nearly every other juncture along his road to becoming an NFL prospect, his transition to Lindenwood after three years at Washburn was anything but routine.
Desir and his wife Morgan struggled to support themselves and provide for their daughters, now ages seven and three, as well as maintain their attentions on Desir’s college football career while at Washburn. With their finances in turmoil, the couple moved their family back home to St. Charles, where they would live with Morgan’s parents. After Washburn declined to release Desir from his scholarship, he was left to work a bevy of jobs to pay for school. Cleaning gun ranges, cleaning sewers along highways, offering janitorial services and filling any other job assignment that may have come his way occupied Desir’s time as he paid his way through school.
At the time, envisioning that his winding road of a college football career would eventually lead to the NFL draft seemed little more than a pipe dream.
“It was always a dream and a goal of mine, but my priorities were just to take care of my family,” Desir said. “Whatever came with it, I was going to take.”
What has come with it is an opportunity to see both Desir’s priorities and his goals realized. At 6’1” and weighing in just shy of 200 pounds, Desir fits the mold of many defensive backs in this class, as teams look to combat the NFL’s ever-increasing bent toward the passing game with larger, more physical corners and safeties.
As a prospect from a school that is a virtual unknown among major college football programs, Desir acknowledged a bit of initial apprehension regarding how he would be viewed in relation to the nation’s other elite defensive backs. Whatever concern existed from the outset was quickly stifled after his invitation the Senior Bowl earlier this month.
“It was just a great opportunity to prove myself that I can go toe-to-toe with the bigger schools’ receivers, just showing that coming from a small school, the competition wouldn’t be an issue.”
While Lindenwood has been a perennial power in NCAA Division II football for some time, Desir’s ascension as an NFL prospect has elevated the program to new heights. NFL pro days are uncharted territory for the school, but they’ll host their first one on March 19.
Desir’s draft stock likely places him in the middle rounds, and some draft experts have tabbed him as a potential third-round choice. While he looks forward to joining whichever NFL franchise chooses him in May, he was far from indifferent regarding the potential of playing for the Rams, whose Earth City, MO training facility is hardly more than a stone’s throw from the Lindenwood campus.
“It would be great,” Desir said. “All my friends and family are in St. Louis, so I’d get a lot of support and I’m familiar with the area. It would be a very smooth transition for me.”
Wherever he ends up, Desir maintains a simple goal through his pre-draft process, one that seemed a long shot when he left Washburn’s campus in 2011.
“I’m just here ready to compete, and to show everyone that I’m here for a reason and that I’m supposed to be here,” Desir said.
It’s a revelation even he couldn’t have envisioned not long ago.