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Florida Football

Early Enrollee Report: Pierre adjusting to speed of college game

May 14, 2019

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For Florida Gators true freshman Jesiah Pierre, the decision to enroll early was an easy one.

He sat down with his coaches at Mount Dora Christian Academy and weighed the pros and cons, looking at what it would mean to miss the final semester of his senior year but unable to pass up the opportunities that came with a January enrollment.

“Basically at our school we like to get ‘em in school and we like to get ‘em out of school as quickly as possible,” Kolby Tackett, head coach at Mt. Dora, explains to Inside the Gators.

“I told him are you get a leg up on everybody else that’s coming in over the summer, you get some valuable face time with the coaches, these things are important and as you’re competing for a starting spot…so it was an overwhelming list of pros that outweighed the cons and it really wasn’t close. He knew that’s what he wanted to do and we support him every step of the way.”

“He wanted to get a head start as far as freshman year,” adds assistant coach Takashi Walker.

“[To] be able to go and meet the coaches and teammates, going through the system at spring ball and get a chance to possibly play in the fall; that’s something we definitely talked about him doing before he left.”

Since enrolling in January, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker has been working on soaking up everything the coaches want to teach the young defensive mind and settling into the college game. When he catches up with his former coaches nearly every week, he tells them of the lessons he’s learned while acclimating.

“The biggest thing he talked about was the game being so much faster and the guys being bigger than high school and that’s some of the things that we discussed before,” says Walker.

Things are faster not just on the field but in learning how to be on your own for the first time as Tackett explains.

“The biggest thing when he first got on campus was adjusting the daily routine and knowing what they expect out of him, which we told him was gonna be the campus. It’s kinda normal anytime you’re jumping to SEC football, things are a little different. But after that he really kind of settled in and had some good friends…but he really seems to have found where he was supposed to be, loves being there, loves being a part of it.”

Coach Walker went over what to expect for Pierre once he arrived in Gainesville, including the understanding that January to March is often the hardest time in football. That’s often proved true, especially for freshman, but Pierre’s coaches say they feel confident from their discussions with him that he’s feeling more and more comfortable with what it will take to succeed.

Says Tackett, “I think it was the second week of spring practice where he just kinda was understanding the concepts and scheme and where to be and the biggest thing he told me is he’s learning how not to piss [defensive coordinator Todd] Grantham off which is hilarious. And so, I think it was just about midway through spring and I think he just kind of settled in, and understand as you grow old and then understand what the coaches want to see and how they want to see it.”

If the second week is when he began to understand what was being taught then it was the end of spring practice when it all clicked as Walker explains.

“It was right before the spring game, a few days before, things started to slow down. From the beginning things were going sort of fast so he said the last week or so, things kinda slowed down for him, he got a chance to relax and that it really came to him the last week of spring practice.”

It’s that understanding and change of pace that is the biggest benefit for enrolling early as now Pierre will head to the offseason with a grasp already of what it will take. And in a shallow linebacker unit that is now without commit Diwun Black (who will head to JUCO for a year), the chance for Pierre to see the field this fall and make an impact is that much greater.

“He’s what I want my sons to be one day…the way he works, the kid was at our workouts-and our workouts start at 6am-he was out at 5 running the ladder before workouts even started. Those type of people are special,” recalls Tackett.

Adds Walker, “I think he’s handled himself very well for the first part of his college career. I’m very pleased in how he’s handling himself and I think it’ll only get easier from here for him. He’s a very mature young man so I think he’ll be just fine and he’s doing a good job.

“He’s very explosive and a hard worker. A great tackler, but the biggest thing I’d say is he has the passion for the game so with him having the right size and the right passion, learning from those guys at that level, I think he’ll bring a lot of passion and leadership with that team right away.”

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