Nebraska special teams coach Bruce Read had plenty of great adjectives when asked about his new toy – returner De’Mornay Pierson-El.
He also had a couple complimentary nouns.
A second-team All-America by the Football Writers Associated and USA Today, Pierson-El returned three punts for touchdowns and led the nation with 589 punt return yards this season. His 17.5 yards per return was good for No. 8 in the country.
“It will be hard to duplicate what he did last year, because nobody will want to kick to him,” said Read. “When they look back at the tape, they are going to kick out of bounds. They will really try to limit his touches.”
As a freshman, it took some time for Pierson-El to get acclimated to the Huskers’ offense in 2014. The Virginia native should be a bigger threat in the passing game in 2015, which begs the question – will the sophomore get the same amount of chances on special teams going forward?
“I think it just depends on who it is. We want to put our best foot forward. Often times, your returner is one of your best players,” said Read. “We will try to feature him as best as we possibly can. He’s explosive and a great athlete. He’s a big time playmaker and he can make you look good as a coach. You want those guys on your team.
“The thing with being a returner is, there is a lot of pressure. You need guys who have been in the bright lights. Guys who have been there and understand the consequences (making a mistake).”
Translation – Pierson-El will continue to be the guy on fourth down.
“He’s scary,” said Read. “Very explosive and a game-changer. That’s outstanding for us.”