FORT SCOTT, KAN. - Although his team came up on the short end Sunday afternoon of a 30-17 loss to Hutchinson Community College, Fort Scott CC sophomore defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul proved to be quite the force.
One wonders how truly disruptive Florida native Pierre-Paul (6-6, 255, 4.55) might have been in the Jayhawk Conference semifinal playoff game if he didn't have a texting plan.
You see he was playing on sprained knee suffered in a "texting" incident and did not enter the game until late in the second quarter with his team down 10-0.
"It was just dumb luck," Fort Scott head coach Jeff Sims said. "He was walking down the steps and texting on his phone and missed a step. He had just come to me and said ‘Coach, we are going to win this weekend.'
"It's not an injury that is going to effect him a long time, it's just a nagging one today," Sims said.
Still Pierre-Paul, a defender the University of Arkansas, Florida and many others would love to sign in February, had 5 tackles, including 3 for lost yardage in what turned into the season-ender for the Greyhounds (8-2).
"I got injured and was going through rehab and going to show up for the game and see how much I could play," Pierre-Paul said. "I rode the bike early to get loose. I just tried to do what I could."
Pierre-Paul, a former basketball player, played only his senior season at Deerfield Beach High School and then played a year at College of the Canyons after signing with Central Florida, but not being eligible.
Pierre-Paul, who will have three years to play two at his next stop, finished this season with 10 ½ sacks, 70 tackles, 3 fumbles caused and 2 recovered.
He is freakish athletically according to Sims – who notes he can do something unheard of for a man his size.
"He can do a backflip in pads," Sims said. "He is special. God has really blessed him and he can do pretty much whatever he wants to do athletically.
"He is a great kid," Sims added. "He is still learning football. He needs to learn a little bit more but he has been getting by athletically."
He certainly is getting attention from some heavyweights, having visited Nebraska with teammate Brandon Kinne back in September, and also having offers from Florida State, LSU, Auburn, South Florida and others.
"Every school in the country that needs a D-end," Sims said. "(Florida head coach) Urban Meyer called last week, (Arkansas head coach) Bobby Petrino has talked to him. That's what I am saying – head coaches are talking to him."
Albeit, Arkansas assistant Garrick McGee has been laying the foundation for the Razorbacks at Fort Scott.
"I think they are doing an outstanding job," Sims said. "Garrick McGee, who does our school, comes over and is very personable and does an outstanding job. They have had a couple of our coaches in camps and they are excited about what is going on there.
"We all know that (Razorback redshirting quarterback and Michigan transfer) Ryan Mallett is there and there is a tremendous future that is going to come about," Sims added. "I don't know if you know this, but my family is originally from Paragould so we all know how important Razorback football is."
Sims gave a big endorsement to SEC football after he and fellow coaches such as defensive coordinator and Arkansas native Russ Pickett – a former Camden Fairview and Ouachita Baptist star and Southern Arkansas assistant – watched some action on TV Saturday.
"A lot of us watched LSU-Alabama yesterday and were turning around to some Big 10 games," Sims said. "It was like our guys were watching high school and JV. SEC football is great and I would for our kids to have the opportunity to be a part of that."
Pierre-Paul has allowed his coach to handle the recruiting process during the season.
"To tell you the truth, Coach Sims is handling that and I have just been going to class, get my scholarship and get out of here," Pierre-Paul said.
That will begin to change now that the season has ended.
"Next week I will probably sit down with Jason and we will probably talked to him about where he wants to take visits and go on from there," Sims said. "…Jason's best football is still ahead of him. He has only played for three years. He is going to be a great one."
Sims hopes all the coaches understand his main focus right now is making sure Pierre-Paul does what he needs to graduate.
"I hope they all understand that we have got to get him out of here before we can get him there," Sims said. "We have got to get him graduated. We are working very hard for that. The reason I don't give out phone numbers (during the season) is because I need him to focus on what he is doing and not where he is going. Once he takes care of what he is doing here, where he is going will take care of itself.
"When he gets to an Arkansas or wherever he goes, they will have tutors, plenty of meals and plenty of people to take care of that," Sims continued. "Here it just us doing that. He works hard at that. I just don't want to get him distracted."
Pierre-Paul and Hutchinson's Eugene Kinlaw – a Troy commit – were the two dominant defensive players on the field on Sunday.
"He is a great player – and in my opinion and this is no disrespect to anybody else – but Jason and No. 99 (Kinlaw) for Hutch – are the two best defensive players in this league," Sims said.
Hutchinson, who will play Butler next Sunday in Wichita for the Jayhawk Conference championship, jumped out early with Pierre-Paul not on the field.
But Pierre-Paul didn't think that deficit was what did in his team, especially considering the Greyhounds came back to tie it 10-10 in the third quarter.
"It was that we weren't focused and ready to play," Pierre-Paul said. "That shows it."
It could have been a hangover from last weekend's showdown between then unbeatens Butler and Fort Scott.
Butler won the game 24-7 on its home field.
"Our season was good, but our last week we had a downfall," Pierre-Paul said. "Everybody was going crazy like we had already lost the championship game. It wasn't even that. We had to come out here and do what we do and get back up there, but we lost."
He hated to see the season end, but now can also look toward the future.
"I loved coming here, but now it is my time to move on," Pierre-Paul said. "I want to keep it going while moving up to the next level."
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