His first season in a Cleveland Browns uniform hasn’t started well for former Lindenwood University and Francis Howell Central player Pierre Desir.
Picked up as a fourth round draft pick, Desir became the first Lindenwood football player taken in the NFL Draft. Cleveland’s scouts liked Desir’s size at 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds. They also liked his athleticism.
Desir won the 2013 Cliff Harris Award, given to the nation’s top small college defensive back. He had 33 tackles, eight pass breakups and four interceptions during his senior season. He was a four-time all-MIAA selection, including three first-team honors, and earned All-American honors in three of his four seasons.
His former coach, Lindenwood’s Patrick Ross, said after the draft that he was excited for Desir.
“He deserved this,” Ross said. “He’s done a good job over the years getting his priorities right for his life. He’s an outstanding young man.”
Before all of his success in college, Desir was a standout athlete for coach Todd Berck at Francis Howell Central in Cottleville. He was an all-state selection at defensive back as a senior and first-team all-league during his junior and senior seasons. He also was named special teams player of the year as a senior.
Desir is the only player from Francis Howell Central ever to be drafted into the NFL. But there were some bumps in the road.
A native of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, Desir emigrated to St. Louis with his parents when he was only 4. His family later moved to St. Charles County.
Desir has spent his entire life fighting adversity, starting with being an immigrant and learning about a new way of life. His parents’ work ethic helped instill a maturity in him greater than that of his peers.
He needed that maturity.
Desir found out at 15 he was going to be a father. Now 23, he has a daughter, Keeli, who is 7. He has another daughter, Kamryn, who is 3. He married Morgan Julian, the mother of the girls, in 2011. He is a family man and loves it.
Supporting his family during his college years was tough. Working part-time jobs, taking classes, and playing football, Desir somehow managed to persevere. Looking back, he said he is proud of what he accomplished. He kept his focus and everything worked out.
“He’s had to take on a lot of responsibility that other young men haven’t had to deal with,” Ross said. “He could have made all the excuses in the world but he never did.”
After college, Desir was invited to play in the East-West Shrine game. That game is a showcase for college seniors.
“That was great. It was my first time going against Division I talent and I was able to showcase my talent,” Desir said. “It was a great platform for scouts to see me. Even though I played for a little school, I knew I could compete.”
Desir had an idea the NFL was interested. He signed with Greg Linton to be his agent. Then it was a matter of getting drafted. The NFL Draft is a three-day marathon. “It was the longest three days,” Desir said.
He had his family present to watch the draft. Both Ross and Berck were there as well. While watching the draft, his daughter Kamryn wanted to go out to swing. So Desir took her.
“I would say I wasn’t outside two minutes and I get a phone call,” Desir said. “I was able to speak to (general manager) Ray Farmer and coach (defensive coordinator Jim) O’Neil. The question came up if I wanted to be a Brown. I said, ‘absolutely.’ I was still outside. It was a great call. I was so blessed to get the call.”
Now, as his NFL career gets off to a bumpy start complicated by injury, his fans, former teammates and coaches are watching and hoping that once again the unique brand of Pierre Desir perseverance and hard work will pay off.
“I think his best football is ahead of him,” Ross said. “He’s an outstanding person, as good as it gets. He’s the kind of kid you want to raise. Everybody loves him.”