I caught up with Washburn defensive back Pierre Desir on Monday evening — he’s in Topeka for the rest of the summer getting ready for the Ichabods’ Aug. 28 opener against Colorado School of Mines. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound All-American and St. Charles, Mo., native opened up about a lot of things, including expectations for his upcoming sophomore season, his pro prospects and his family coming to the U.S. from Haiti when he was 4 years old. He also talked about the impact that the January earthquake in Haiti had on his family that still lives there. I’m not about to mince words: This was one of our best Q&As yet.
Here you go:
SUNFLOWER SLATE: So, it’s only June 14 and you’ve already been named a preseason first-team All-American twice — how do you feel about that and is there anything you can do to kind of remove yourself from all of the hype and focus on the upcoming season?
PIERRE DESIR: Well I really didn’t expect the first one and just found out about the second one today … it’s a little bit overwhelming but I’m thankful and I’m happy about it. Still have to play the games, though, so it’s not hard for me to keep that in mind.
What’s your preparation been like this summer?
I have a couple of main focuses this summer — my speed and my footwork — which means a lot of 7 on 7. Even if I’m the only defensive back that shows up I make sure that I’m there. I know I need to improve my coverage skills … I’m always trying to get better. There’s always something for me to improve on.
One of the preseason All-American teams you were on was from Consensus Draft Services … is playing pro football something that’s even on your radar at this point? It seems like your size and speed stack up well with defensive backs in the NFL.
People have talked to me about that and I’ve heard a lot of stuff from other players but I never let that stuff get into my head and it’ll never stop me from reaching my goals of being an All-American or someday getting to that next level. I take everybody’s criticism and everybody’s encouragement the same … I think it’ll all help me get better in the end.
You’ve got an interesting background in that you have family that still live in Haiti and were there for the earthquakes that devastated that region in January. Can you tell us something about your background and your family members that were there when it happened?
I have two uncles — my dad’s brothers — that they weren’t able to be found at first, but they eventually found them and they were okay. I had an eight-month-old cousin that died and my grandfather died, too. My grandfather was already sick when the earthquakes hit and he had a heart attack and they couldn’t get him any medical help. My father (Wilfrid Desir) and mother (Marie Desir) went over about a week-and-a-half after the earthquakes and they’re going back again soon.
So your parents were born in Haiti?
They were, and so was I. We came over to the U.S. when I was about 4 1/2 years old … I don’t remember any of it vividly, only certain events. I remember the view of the ocean, I remember my first day of school, I remember something my mother said here or there.
Wow. That’s an incredible story. So what’s your life like now, in Topeka?
I play a lot of basketball, I played in high school. I don’t go out as much as I used to because I’m really trying to buckle down and focus on studying. This summer I’m taking a couple of classes so that hasn’t stopped for me. School and football, that’s where my focus is at. I think the last movie I went to go see was “Kick-Ass” and I liked that so much I went and saw it twice.
That’s a great movie. Do you have any music you listen to before games? Maybe a song that gets you pumped up?
I listen to all types of music, but the stuff that gets me pumped up for games is rock and heavy metal. It kind of gets me in that angry state of mind you need to be in. When I was in high school I used to listen to “Last Resort” by Papa Roach a couple of times right before I went out and it got my mind right.
Is that still your song?
Like I said. PD killed it. TA.