Buzz Kill

Bernard Pierce heard the buzz, and he didn't like it. There has never been a question, ever since he broke out for 116 yards in his third collegiate game against Buffalo, that Pierce was a quality back. But after missing three games and leaving several others with injuries the last two years, his durability had come into question. With a strong 2011 campaign, Pierce is putting the doubts to rest.

Bernard Pierce heard the buzz, and he didn't like it.

There has never been a question, ever since he broke out for 116 yards in his third collegiate game against Buffalo, that Pierce was a quality back.

But after a freshman season in which he played just one half of the last two games – including leaving at halftime of the EagleBank Bowl – with a shoulder injury and was knocked out of other games early, there were questions about his durability.

Those questions became more persistent after a sophomore year where he was limited to 10 games, including one play in the final two games.

But following a 2011 season in which he missed just one game – that on a last-minute decision because of concussion-related symptoms – and finished several games despite battling a nagging hamstring injury, Pierce has started to put the doubts to rest.

"I missed one game, but I started and finished the season, and it feels good," said Pierce after the regular-season finale against Kent State last week. "I would say I took this year more serious with my preparation. I did the offseason work, I made sure I worked harder than ever before.

"The injury-prone thing was the buzz around the locker room, and it wasn't a good feeling. I made sure I was solid in my body and maintained being healthy."

Pierce recently was named first-team all-Mid-American Conference for the third time. He earned the honor last year despite a disappointing 728 yards and 10 touchdowns after pre-season Heisman hype, and his breakout freshman year where he ran for 1,361 yards and 16 touchdowns.

This year, Pierce shattered his freshman totals with 1,381 yards and 25 touchdowns – the latter good for second nationally – and a likely bowl game to go. He is No. 1 in career rushing touchdowns at Temple (51), No. 1 in total touchdowns (52), No. 2 in rushing yards (3,470) and No.2 in 100-yard games (17).

"When he's healthy, he's as good as anybody," said first-year Temple coach Steve Addazio. "He had some tremendous runs (in the finale against Kent State) and had them throughout the year. He came a long way with his durability this year, and with another year he'll be able to grow and complete himself as a running back. That's critically important in college football, you develop and get better each year."

Addazio may be hopeful about the last part of his statement as the result of Pierce showing he can be durable might be a move to the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining.

While Pierce could prove himself more with another year, especially in regards to his receiving skills, he would also be playing behind an offensive line that graduates four starters this year. Asked about the possibility of having played his last home game as an Owl Friday, Pierce declined comment.

But whatever his decision, he knows the buzz about him has changed.

"The buzz after the first five, six games was that's a tough back," said Pierce.

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