Sometimes players just seem to slip through the cracks. That’s often how great prospects can wind up at small schools, but sometimes players with great potential can manage to fly under the radar at big schools.
That’s what seems to have happened to Dameon Pierce at the University of Florida. Pierce is a fourth-year senior who has appeared in 48 games, but only received 374 total touches in his collegiate career. That would suggest a player who was a special teams ace and gadget player on the offense who needed to be schemed the occasional touch. Watching Pierce’s tape, however, reveals a more well-rounded skill set with exciting potential in the right situation at the next level.
Pierce offers an intriguing blend of athleticism with an incredibly stout build that calls to mind Doug Martin (aka “The Muscle Hamster”) coming out of Boise State.
Prospect: Dameon Pierce (27)
Games Watched: vs. Arkansas (2020), vs. Oklahoma (2020), vs. Alabama (2021), vs. Georgia (2021)
Games Played: 48
Yards (YPC): 1,806 (5.5 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 422 (9.4 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 28 (23 rushing, 5 receiving)
Games Played: 13
Yards (YPC): 574 (5.7 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 216 (11.4 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 16 (13 rushing, 3 receiving)
Best: Play strength, contact balance, athleticism, versatility, leverage
Worst: Blocking accuracy
Projection: A starting running back or an important role player in a rotation
Dameon Pierce is a stout, powerful, athletic, and versatile running back prospect from the university of Florida.
Pierce is short but far from undersized, measuring 5-foot-9, 220 pounds with obvious thickness throughout his frame. He is also a springy athlete despite his compact, powerful build.
Pierce wastes little time behind the line of scrimmage and while he runs with a good tempo, he plays with a sense of urgency. Pierce has solid vision behind the line of scrimmage, and does a good job of executing both inside and outside zone runs. He shows good dedication in following his blockers between the tackles. Likewise, he has decision making when picking his running lanes on outsize zone runs. Pierce has good agility to plant his foot and turn upfield as a one-cut runner, and also has some cutback ability. He has a great burst thanks to an explosively powerful lower body and can accelerate through the hole quickly.
Pierce’s short stature gives him natural leverage and a low center of gravity, which can make him very difficult for single defenders to bring down. He is always the low man, and his powerful lower body allows him to run through arm tackles once he gets vertical. His build also gives him a high stride frequency, which helps to keep him driving forward through contact, as well as helping his change of direction skills. He also has enough long speed to gain the edge on off-tackle runs, as well as pick up chunk yardage in the open field.
Pierce is a very physical runner and never shies away from contact. He will frequently lower his shoulder to deliver hits to defenders in an attempt to run through – or over – them.
He brings that physicality to his pass protection as well. He is a willing blocker who understands his role in pass protection schemes. Pierce is also willing to serve as a pseudo fullback for his quarterback on designed QB runs or zone read plays.
Pierce is a capable receiver who has some experience splitting out as well as running routes out of the backfield. He seems to be a “hands” catcher and generally presents a square target for his quarterback.
While Pierce is a willing and tenacious blocker, he is occasionally an inaccurate one. He can miss his blocks in pass protection, in space on screen plays, or when his quarterback is a runner.
And while Pierce’s build lends him natural leverage to maximize his considerable play strength, that also brings a lack of length which could cause some size mismatches even when he isn’t outweighed. He was split out as a receiver on occasion in Florida’s offense, but longer defenders could be able to play around him and his catch windows will naturally be smaller.
Overall Grade: 7.4
Florida runner Dameon Pierce is a fun prospect to watch and he has the skill set to be an every-down back or an important piece in a running back rotation. Whether or not he is a “starter” is somewhat irrelevant as he has the traits to contribute on any down and distance, or in any circumstance.
Watching Pierce begs the question why the Florida coaching staff didn’t get him on the field more often. Despite being a fourth-year senior, Pierce only touched the ball 374 times and most of those came in his last two seasons. Teams will want to do their due diligence as to why he didn’t see the field (or the ball) more, but the upside is that there is relatively little wear and tear on Pierce’s body.
Pierce is an incredibly physical player, and his build makes him a very difficult player for defenders to bring down. He is almost always going to be the “low man” in any interaction, and he has the power to bull defenders over when he gets leverage. His height (or lack thereof) allows him to “hide” behind offensive linemen before planting a foot and bursting upfield. He has enough speed to break off chunk runs and appears to have the receiving skills to be a factor in the passing game.
Pierce doesn’t do any one thing particularly well. He is a stout, dense runner, but there are bigger guys. He’s a good athlete, but doesn’t appear elite in any category. He is a willing blocker, but need to work on getting results.
But for all that, the totality of his game is impressive. He appears to have been (wildly) under-utilized at the collegiate level and could blossom in the right situation at the NFL.