Pierce prepares for NFL draft

Bernard Pierce announces his entry into the NFL draft. Junior running back Bernard Pierce will no longer be on Main Campus as he recently moved to Atlanta to begin training for the National Football League.

KATE McCANN TTN Junior running back Bernard Pierce announces that he’s leaving Temple, but not for good. Pierce intends to return to complete his degree in communications.

Bernard Pierce announces his entry into the NFL draft.

Junior running back Bernard Pierce will no longer be on Main Campus as he recently moved to Atlanta to begin training for the National Football League.

Pierce announced on Jan. 6 that he will forego his senior season and enter the 2012 NFL Draft in April.

“I felt like I had a pretty good season this year, one of my best,” Pierce said. “If I came back next year and didn’t produce as well I felt that possibly my stock could drop and that I also accomplished a lot of what I wanted to do at the collegiate level.”

The All-Eastern College Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year and three-time first-team All-Mid American Conference honoree rushed for 1,481 yards and scored 27 touchdowns last season, while helping Temple win its first bowl game in 32 years.

The Ardmore native finished the regular season nationally ranked in several offensive statistics among running back including No. 2(t) in rushing touchdowns.

Senior defensive end and team captain Morkeith Brown is training alongside Pierce for the draft. Both Brown and Pierce are clients of Management Representation Marketing Sports and Entertainment agent Marty Magid.

The agency lists another Temple alumnus as its client, defensive tackle Antwon Burton, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Denver Broncos in 2006.

Concluding the past season in healthy condition factored into Pierce’s decision to enter the draft a year early, he said.

The Glen Mills School product has battled injuries throughout all three of his seasons at Temple, including hamstring tightness and a concussion last season.

The All-American left his mark in the record books during his junior season, becoming the Owls’ all-time leader in several categories including rushing touchdowns (53), total touchdowns (54) and points scored (324). He also set single-season records for rushing touchdowns (27), total touchdowns (27), points scored (162), and 100-yard rushing games (nine).

“My mom and I did a lot of soul-searching about it and we both felt that it was the right decision to make,” Pierce said. “I feel great about my decision.”

Pierce added that he is going to return to Temple at some point to complete his degree in communications.

“I made a promise to both my mom and myself,” Pierce said. “Finishing my degree in communications is absolutely at the top of my list.”

Now that Pierce does not have to attend classes, he can commit his time to training for the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, which will take place on Feb. 22-28 in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. He is currently training with renowned trainer and coach Paul Doyle.

“I’m doing a lot of combine-training, strength training, explosion, speed and pool work,” Pierce said. “I feel like I didn’t really get enough opportunities to catch the ball out of the backfield, and so I’m working hard to show teams that I do possess those skills.”

Magid said that the NFL Draft Advisory Board projects Pierce to be a third round draft pick.

“I’m working hard to improve myself and my skills to prove that I’m an every down back and to increase my draft stock,” Pierce said. “Just being drafted would be an honor in today’s NFL. It would make my mom proud and fulfill my childhood dreams.”

Brown, an All-MAC third-team honoree and four-year starter, was the oldest player for the Owls last season at 26 years old due to enlisting in the Army post high school graduation. The Harrisburg native began his collegiate career as a member of the special teams unit before becoming a tight end during his sophomore year. Brown converted to defensive end, which is currently his preferred position, prior to his senior season, as the Owls had a need on the defensive line.

“If it was up to me I would have been on defense my whole career at Temple University,” Brown said. “I try to look at it as a positive. It shows that I am very versatile and that I can contribute to my team in many different ways.”

Brown and his agent said they believe his name could be announced in the late rounds of the draft if he puts in hard work at the combine and shows off his pass rushing skills off the edge.

“I want to give a special thanks to coach [Steve] Addazio and [defensive coordinator Chuck] Heater for placing me back on defense where I feel I truly belong,” Brown said.

Several other Owls are on the hunt to hear their names on draft day, as five players will participate in all-star games this month. Senior defensive back Kee-ayre Griffin will play in the inaugural AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 21 in Carson, Calif, seniors offensive lineman Derek Dennis and tight end Evan Rodriguez will play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 21 in St. Petersburg, Fla, and seniors defensive back Kevin Kroboth and offensive lineman Wayne Tribue will participate in the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game on Jan. 16 in Tucson, Ariz.

Rich Fogel can be reached at rich.fogel@temple.edu.

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