Player Spotlight: Bernard Pierce
From 1993 through 2008, Temple football won only 37 games. Although former head coach Al Golden looked like he was turning a lost program in the right direction, things didn’t really change until Bernard Pierce suited up for the Owls.
Pierce’s freshman season in 2009 with Temple coincided with the program’s best season in 30 years, where they won nine games and appeared in a bowl game. He went through a three-game stretch where he rushed for a combined 657 yards and scored eight touchdowns.
That year he rushed for 1361 yards and scored a school record 16 touchdowns. His prolific first season earned him Mid-America Conference Freshman of the Year honors.
Production went down for the 6-foot-1-inch running back in 2010 when he missed action due to hamstring and ankle injuries. However, Pierce was still dangerous when healthy. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry and rushed for 10 touchdowns.
Pierce was lightly recruited coming out of the Glen Mills School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. He did not receive offers from any major programs, but Temple was more than happy to bring him aboard and he has been worth his weight in gold to the program ever since.
Temple’s annual contest with Penn State provides the junior running back with his biggest challenge of the year. He saw limited action against the Nittany Lions the previous two years. In 2009 he faced Penn State in just his second career game. Pierce had 7 carries for 24 yards. He rushed for 42 yards on 10 carries early on in the game last season before coming out of the game with a high ankle sprain.
So far this season, the Owls have put up strong offensive numbers with Pierce leading the charge. However, the level of talent they will be facing will take a sharp increase this weekend when Penn State comes calling. Passing the ball is still something Temple’s offense has not proven they can do, so until then Bernard Pierce will draw most of the attention of Tom Bradley’s defense.
In his career, Pierce has posted 11 games where he rushed for more than 100 yards and his team won every time. Following this season Pierce will be eligible for the NFL Draft. Whether or not he chooses to leave Temple a year early to play professionally is a question on the minds of Owl fans. No matter what his decision is, he will still be remembered as one of the best players in program history.
This weekend’s game is being billed as one of the biggest in the history of Temple football. Right now Bernard Pierce is the face of the program and will have to have a career game if his team is going to have a chance to walk out of Lincoln Financial Field with a victory.
Dan Cronin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. He can be reached at email@example.com.