College Confidential

Recruiting Recap: How Davion Pierson went from lightly recruited to starter at TCU

TCU's defensive tackle Davion Pierson was a lightly recruited three-star recruit when signed with the Horned Frogs in 2011. (Star-Telegram/Khampha Bouaphanh)
TCU's defensive tackle Davion Pierson was a lightly recruited three-star recruit when signed with the Horned Frogs in 2011. (Star-Telegram/Khampha Bouaphanh) Star-Telegram

Davion Pierson was like so many other TCU recruits before the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12.

He had an OK frame, an OK skill set and was considered by evaluators as an OK prospect. Three stars, but unranked by Rivals. Not an “ooh and ah” guy, as ESPN put it.

And this, too: As an all-state defensive tackle at Millwood High School in Oklahoma City, neither Oklahoma or Oklahoma State offered Pierson, who signed with TCU in 2011.

Earlier this week, at TCU’s pre-camp media day, Pierson remembered not getting attention from the two Big 12 schools in his home state. But he didn’t feel like he was snubbed.

"I say it was surprising, but it wasn’t,” he said. “I wasn’t the player I needed to be. Coach [Gary Patterson] just saw something in me. Potential."

Pierson took advantage of the opportunity: In three seasons, he’s made 31 starts at defensive tackle, including all 13 games last year, when he made eight tackles for loss with three sacks.

So, how did Pierson go from a lightly recruited prospect in Oklahoma to a starter at TCU? Here’s what Pierson said Tuesday, as he explained Patterson’s defensive philosophy.

"From high school to here, it’s effort. Just the will to do things. And it’s no excuse, but in high school I played both sides of the ball, and I liked defense more. I played offensive guard. I was just saving my energy, so when I got on defense, I could just hit somebody in the mouth.

"But here, I was on one side of the ball, and they installed it in your head from the go to push yourself, push yourself, push yourself. It’s all mental toughness. Football is all mental. It’s heart and it’s smarts, and [Patterson] instills that in you from the go.

"Effort is all of it. Go 110 [mph] every snap, as hard as possible. Let them know you’re physical, and that you’re going to be there the whole game.

“With the d-line, [the scheme] is not as difficult. I just have to get to A (gap), B (gap). But for the defensive backs, I’m sure it’s tough, because they have to play the run and the pass. Once you learn it, it’s not so complex. It’s just for young guys, it’s a lot of stuff.

“I knew Coach P was serious, but man, he was getting on people if you were an inch and a half off. He’s like, ‘No, you don’t line up there, you line up here.’ He’s been doing it so long, that he knows where you need to be. Because it’s just that one step from the quarterback throwing the ball for a touchdown and you sacking him so he can’t throw the ball. That’s why you line up on the inch here, and go straight ahead."

Rankings update

247 Sports updated its 2017 rankings this week. Kennedale linebacker Baron Browning (Baylor commit) remained the highest-ranked area player, at 40th overall. Aledo offensive lineman Wes Harris (TCU commit), also a four-star, is 79th.

Fort Worth South Hills receiver Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State, SMU, Tulsa, Vanderbilt, Houston) checked in at 139th, while Southlake Carroll defensive back Robert Barnes (Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas) was 226th.

Quick Hits

▪ Aledo defensive back Patrick Peek committed to Fresno State.

▪ Everman RB Kierre Crossley said he visited Louisiana-Monroe last week. The Warhawks are one of two schools to offer the senior, Central Arkansas being the other. Crossley has been among the most productive running backs in the state the last two seasons.

Last year, he rushed for 3,158 yards and 36 touchdowns as the Bulldogs reached the fourth round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.

▪ Southlake Carroll 2016 ATH Lil’Jordan Humphrey and 2017 DB Robert Barnes visited Texas last weekend. Still early for Barnes, who also has strong interest from Oklahoma and Baylor. Humphrey also recently visited Wisconsin. Both should have big years for the Dragons this season.

▪ Last Saturday was the first day schools could "officially" offer prospects with a mailed letter. For the most part, they’re standard congratulatory notes signed by the head football coach. Look closely, though, at TCU commit Trayveon Williams’ letter from the Frogs. It makes note of the extra $4,700 TCU student-athletes will receive starting this year, in addition to a full scholarship. Cost-of-attendance money is something recruits are already being made aware of.

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