Snapshot: Brian St. Pierre

One local newspaper said that playing quarterback at Boston College was Brian St. Pierre's "destiny as early as 1994." The son of a French Canadian father and Italian mother was a four-year starter at nearby St. John's Prep and turned down offers from Syracuse, Notre Dame and Ohio State to follow in the footsteps of Doug Flutie, Glenn Foley and the Hasselbecks at Boston College.

St. Pierre ("Saint" to his teammates) assumed the starting job as a junior, came within two touchdown passes of breaking Flutie's single-season record of 27 and led BC to a win over Georgia in the Music City Bowl. St. Pierre had a passer rating of 91.6 and the 6-foot-2¾, 218-pounder was being hailed as a future NFL first-round draft pick.

His senior season didn't follow the plan. St. Pierre threw two interceptions in a narrow opening-game win over Connecticut and was booed during a three-interception win over Stanford.

"It's tough when you get booed in your own hometown," St. Pierre said at the time "But, hey, I've been a Boston sports fan all my life, so I know what it's about. You've got to be a little thick-skinned."

BC did win nine games last year for the first time since 1993, and St. Pierre finished with a terrific performance against Toledo in the Motor City Bowl. But it really wasn't the season for which St. Pierre had hoped. His passer rating slipped to 78.5, and aside from the 35-25-0-342 and 3-TD performance in the bowl game, St. Pierre finished horribly. In the last five scheduled games of his senior season, St. Pierre had a passer rating of 59.7. Little wonder his draft stock plummeted. He was picked late in the fifth round by the Steelers.

So what happened?

"It's hard to tell when you've only watched senior tape," Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey said. "I'm talking about myself doing an evaluation on him, comparing him to his prior years. I saw enough that there was interest on my part, and it was very similar to everybody else in that (draft) room when we talked about him. I just think the supporting cast may not have been what you are looking for to help him out."

"We were trying to find an identity early last year," said St. Pierre. "We had some new faces. We started picking up steam right around the Pitt game. It was a real tough loss here but we went to Notre Dame and won a big game and we started with the roll from there and topped it off with a great bowl game against Toledo. Hopefully I can carry that into camp with me."

The two bowl wins are a point of pride with St. Pierre. So are the three BC wins over Notre Dame. The two schools are the only Catholic universities playing Division One football and it's turned into a rivalry. As a starter in three of those games and a reserve in the fourth, St. Pierre's passing line reads 66-32-5-409 and four touchdowns. The numbers aren't as impressive as the three wins, which summarizes St. Pierre's time at Boston College.

"More importantly," BC Coach Tom O'Brien said at one point last season, "he is a tremendous leader and a student of the game. He is very intelligent and has become just a great football player."

An example of St. Pierre's leadership occurred prior to the Syracuse game last season. BC was 0-4 in the Big East Conference and St. Pierre pleaded with offensive coordinator Dana Bible to use a no-huddle offense. It worked. St. Pierre threw for 284 yards and a touchdown in the 41-20 win over the Orangemen. It was the best game of his senior season, save for the bowl win over Toledo. The latter, by the way, may have been the game that saved St. Pierre a spot with the Steelers.

"He was right on," Mularkey said. "You can argue the point of the competition level but it was an impressive display throughout four quarters."

St. Pierre waited out draft weekend at his home in Danvers, Massachusetts, hoping to become the first St. John's draftee since Rob Konrad in 1998. St. Pierre told the Salem Evening News he'd hoped to be drafted in the fourth or fifth round, and that the tension dissipated when the Steelers called.

"I'm elated," St. Pierre told his hometown paper. "I think of the Steel Curtain and the Steel City and all their great history. It's a dream. ... This is perfect for me. Pittsburgh is a blue-collar town, a tough town, and that's the way I was brought up. It fits my demeanor."

To add to St. Pierre's party, his friend and center at Boston College, Dan Koppen, was selected by the New England Patriots on the next pick. Koppen was asked about St. Pierre.

"Brian is a guy who's happy to break down film of a game," Koppen said. "He's one of the best at that. He can't get enough football."

Jim Wexell
Steel City

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