Lindenwood Defensive Back Captures Small College Defensive Player of the Year
LITTLE ROCK — Lindenwood University defensive back Pierre Desir has been chosen as the recipient of the inaugural Cliff Harris Award, which will be presented annually to the nation’s top small college defensive player.
Desir was chosen from a group of more than 5,000 defensive players representing almost 500 NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA colleges and universities. For the list of finalists and nominees go to www.CliffHarrisAward.com.
The award is named in honor of former Dallas Cowboy great Cliff Harris, an Arkansas native who was offered only one college scholarship to then-NAIA Ouachita Baptist University. Harris was passed over for the 1970 NFL draft. He signed a free agent contract with the Cowboys and then helped lead Dallas to five Super Bowl appearances during the next decade. Harris played in six Pro Bowls.
For more on the Cliff Harris story, go to www.CliffHarrisAward.com.
The presentation of the $3,000 Cliff Harris Award trophy will take place at the Little Rock Touchdown Club awards banquet on February 13. Lou Holtz will be the featured speaker at the banquet.
“I’m very pleased to have Pierre Desir as the inaugural winner of the Cliff Harris Award,” Harris said. “He has a tremendous story, starting with his family’s move to the United States from Haiti. He didn’t begin playing football until the 9th grade, which is when I started. He has worked hard and in the process has become one of the best college defensive backs in the nation. I wish him the best as he pursues his dream of playing in the NFL. I also want to congratulate all of our outstanding finalists and nominees. I wish I could give a trophy to every one of them. They’re all elite players. I’m proud and impressed they are proving that the best football isn’t always played at the FBS and FCS level. Players from Division II, Division III and NAIA deserve their share of respect and recognition.”
Desir is 6-2, 206 pounds. He was a three-time All-American and one of the most respected defensive enforcers in the nation. Lindenwood coaches estimate that only 5 percent of opponent passes were thrown in his direction. Still, he had four interceptions, eight pass breakups and 12 passes defended. He finished his career ranked first in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association history with 52 passes defended and his 25 career interceptions are the second most in conference history and represent one of the more outstanding career marks in small college history.
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Desir came to the United States by boat with his family when he was 4 years old. His father had been a successful soccer player in Haiti. Pierre Desir also focused on soccer until his freshman year in high school when he decided to play football for the first time at Francis Howell Central High School in St. Peters, Mo., which is near St. Louis. As a high school junior and senior, he was an all-state defensive back.
Desir redshirted in 2008 at Washburn University before bursting on the scene as a redshirt freshman. He led the MIAA with seven interceptions and earned all-conference and second team All-America honors. He transferred to Lindenwood where he has totaled 13 interceptions in two seasons, including three games in 2012 where he recorded multiple interceptions. He was named All-American by the American Football Coaches Association in 2012 and 2013 and also named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll in both seasons.
Desir will be in action Jan. 18 in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., and is considered to be an excellent NFL prospect.