‘No regrets’: Former Boise State safety makes the most of his second chance at Pro Day
Former Boise State safety DeAndre Pierce needed a break from football when his college playing career ended in 2021.
Pierce, the son of former NFL linebacker Antonio Pierce, spent the first four years of his college career at Boise State. In 2019, he transferred to Arizona State, where his father was the defensive coordinator.
He played in 26 games and posted 144 tackles in his first two seasons at Boise State, but 2017 was the last time he played a full season because of injuries and COVID-19. Pierce was do despondent about how his career ended that he didn’t even participate in Pro Day following his senior year at Arizona State.
He returned to Boise State as a recruiting assistant last year, and it didn’t take him long to rediscover his passion for playing football. Pierce said he felt the itch to get back out there as soon as fall camp began.
“As much as I loved watching practice, it made me so sick,” Pierce said on Monday. “There’s nothing like playing football.”
Pierce was back on the field Monday. He was one of nine former Broncos who worked out for NFL scouts during Pro Day in the Caven-Williams Indoor Complex. Safety JL Skinner and offensive lineman John Ojukwu were present but did not participate in drills.
Pierce, 23, said he feels like he has a second chance at an NFL career, and he plans to make the most of it.
“I don’t want any regrets like I had the first time around,” said Pierce, who finished his playing career with 230 tackles. “I knew I had to make this count.”
Pierce put on a good show. He posted the best vertical leap of the day, clearing 35.5 inches, and led everyone in attendance with a broad jump of 9 feet, 11 inches. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds.
A Boise State lineman is ‘back home’ this spring after battling injury last year
Pierce said he’s been preparing for Pro Day since last September. He’d sneak in weight room sessions between his recruiting duties during the day. When he wrapped up his day at Boise State around 6:30 p.m., he’d spend a couple of hours running through drills on his own at Dona Larsen Park.
Players are eligible for the NFL Draft only the year after they exhaust their eligibility, so Pierce can’t hear his name called April 27-29. He said Monday that his goal is to get invited to a rookie minicamp and earn a spot on a roster.
“I just need to get my foot in the door,” Pierce said. “I know once I get there my IQ and everything else will stand out.”
Skinner, Boise State’s top draft prospect, didn’t work out because he’s still recovering from a torn pectoral muscle, which also kept him out of the NFL Scouting Combine.
Scouts gathered around Skinner at one point Monday as he updated them on his rehab. He had surgery on March 7 and said his recovery is expected to take about 12 weeks.
Skinner knows working out at these events would have helped his draft stock, but he also said teams know what he can do from watching his game film.
“I’ve been telling teams I’ll be able to make an impact anytime and anywhere on the field,” Skinner said. “I’ll help make their organization better on and off the field.”
Ojukwu, who started 32 consecutive games at left tackle, also didn’t work out. Instead, he opted to let what he did at the NFL Combine stand. The 6-5, 304-pounder posted 26 reps on the bench press, ran the shuttle drill in 4.52 seconds and the 40-yard dash in 5.24 seconds.
Defensive tackle Scott Matlock put on a memorable performance Monday. He lifted 225 pounds 29 times on the bench press, leading all Broncos in attendance and setting a new personal record.
He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds and the shuttle drill in 4.27 seconds after checking in at 6-4 and 296 pounds.
“I just wanted to continue to show the player I am,” Matlock said. “I wanted to show my speed, athleticism and strength, and I think I did that.”
Matlock, who finished his Boise State career with 115 tackles and 11.5 sacks, competed in the NFLPA Bowl in January and East-West Shrine Bowl in February. He’s been in Boise training since then, and he said he’ll be ready when he gets his shot in the NFL.
“It’s been a fun process and I’m trying to soak it all in because it’s kind of flying by,” he said. “I’m just attacking every day and waiting for my opportunity.”
Cornerback Caleb Biggers put on perhaps the most complete performance of the day. The 5-10, 202-pounder posted 23 reps on the bench press, cleared 33.5 inches in the vertical jump and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds, which was the fastest time of the day.
“I can play at any level,” Biggers said. “When it comes to playing in the NFL, I just need the opportunity. When I get it, I’m going to take it.”
Here’s a look at how the rest of the Broncos performed.
Defensive back Tyreque Jones
Vertical jump: 32 inches
Broad jump: N/A
40-yard dash: N/A
Bench press: 9 reps
Shuttle drill: N/A
Three-cone drill: 6.88 seconds
Defensive lineman Divine Obichere
Vertical jump: 28.5 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 5 inches
40-yard dash: 4.86 seconds
Bench press: 19 reps
Shuttle drill: 4.5 seconds
Three-cone drill: 7.43 seconds
Defensive lineman George Tarlas
Vertical jump: 27.5 inches
Broad jump: 6 feet, 3 inches
40-yard dash: 4.8 seconds
Bench press: 22 reps
Shuttle drill: 4.26 seconds
Three-cone drill: 6.96 seconds
Defensive back Tyric LeBeauf
Vertical jump: 33.5 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 4 inches
40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds
Bench press: N/A
Shuttle drill: 4.3 seconds
Three-cone drill: 6.89 seconds
Linebacker Ezekiel Noa
Vertical jump: 31 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 8 inches
40-yard dash: 4.75 seconds
Bench press: 21 reps
Shuttle drill: 4.31 seconds
Three-cone drill: 7.09 seconds
Tight end Kurt Rafdal
Vertical jump: 29 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet
40-yard dash: 4.85 seconds
Bench press: 14 reps
Shuttle drill: 4.58 seconds
Three-cone drill: 7.32 seconds
Defensive back DeAndre Pierce
Vertical jump: 35.5 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 11 inches
40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds
Bench press: 9 reps
Shuttle drill: 4 seconds
Three-cone drill: 6.66 seconds