High School: West Potomac high school (VA)
We predicted Pierson-El would play last season, but we don’t know if anybody predicted the actual results.
The freshman only recorded 23 catches for 321 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver, but made his impact on special teams, proving to be one of the best punt returners in the country.
Pierson-El had 34 returns, for 596 yards (17.5 average) and three scores. It could have easily been five to six touchdowns. His play on special teams earned him second-team All-American honors by the USA Today and Football Writers Association.
If Nebraska sophomore De’Mornay Pierson-El isn’t a household name yet in the Big Ten, he likely will be after this fall.
Pierson-El’s Red-White spring game was supposed to be light. Seven touches later - you have to wonder what a heavy day will look like on Saturdays?
“You got to ask Coach,” said a laughing Pierson-El after the game. “Only two guys might now that. Coach Riley and the man upstairs.
If Coach Riley’s words this spring were any indication; Pierson-El is going to get the ball – often.
A high school quarterback/athlete, it took the former Virginia prep some time to get accustomed to the wide receiver spot. He’s hardly a polished product even now. But, it’s likely how offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf uses him that will make defensive coordinators focus on No. 15 during the week. Look for Pierson-El to be not only be featured in the screen game, but as a runner on jet sweeps.
"It's been a good play for us for quite a few years,” said Riley. “It's kind of funny how it comes and goes. Sometimes it's probably because of the person. We've had some special people to use with it and De'Mornay (Pierson-El) looks like that kind of guy that can make something exciting happen. I think that sweep play is always going to be something that is part of our identity. There's some other stuff that goes with it that has always been fun to do, and it's nice to see it take shape like that because when it's going it gives you another running weapon in your offense."
BRR projection: While we don’t think Jordan Westerkamp is getting enough credit and will actually be the Huskers receptions leader in 2015, Pierson-El is going to be a headache for the rest of the Big Ten. Nebraska will find ways to get him the ball on offense. The sophomore will get as many touches as he can handle. He's going to be the slot guy.
His versatility will earn him all-conference honors this season as a receiver and his threat as a returner will earn him the respect of NFL scouts. We just don’t think he’s going to get the same type of opportunities on special teams that he did last year – kick away.
How he ended up in Lincoln:
A three-star prospect, Pierson-El hit the Huskers’ Big Red Weekend in June of 2013, hoping to learn how they saw him in their offense. The electric athlete got the answer he was looking for – he left a verbal.
The ultimate athlete, Pierson-El played quarterback for his high school team in 2013, throwing for 876 yards and seven touchdowns, while rushing for 1,007 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Pierson earned Class AAA all-state honors as a kick returner from the Virginia High School Coaches Association.