Noah Pierre kept the faith, making the most of the opportunity

BLOOMINGTON – Growing up, every morning, Noah Peter would pray with his mother.

Peter is spiritual in the sense that it brings him comfort and peace when he needs it, and that’s where he learned this. Daily morning prayer, often the same verse: Psalm 23: 4.

Yes, although I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no harm: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they console me.

The entirety of Psalm 23 speaks of unwavering faith in God, and trust in that faith, and the knowledge that God will keep the faithful safe by showing them the straight path. It is a faith that Peter knows well. A recent refund was for a player who has become something of a rarity in the transfer portal era, and whose teammates and coaches hold him in high regard.

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“Even in pee wee (football), in high school – he moved to different places – he was the smallest. He was the one who was neglected, ”said his mother, Lucretia Cannady. “But when he got his chance, he made himself shine.”

Cannady enrolled his son in a soccer league when he was 4 years old. It was something to do, to keep him active and to drain a child’s seemingly bottomless energy well.

Almost from the start, Pierre was among the smallest players on his team, and also the most dedicated. The two went hand in hand.

“He’s always worked hard,” Cannady said, “because he’s always been smaller.”

Pierre started at the receiver and the running back but preferred the defense. He preferred to strike a blow rather than absorb one, he learned. As he grew older, even though his teammates were always taller, Pierre began to excel in the sport.

By the time he got to high school, Pierre recognized that he might be a candidate for college. But he also believed he would need to be somewhere college coaches were looking for.

He asked his mother to transfer schools, first to Hallandale High School, then later to Catholic Champagnat.

“I’m good at what I do,” he told his mother. “I feel like I could do better and I need to be seen. “

“He was the one who was trying to find his way,” Cannady said. “He made the decision and he stuck to it. He felt like it was good for him.

In Champagnat, Pierre joined a team of stars who were at the top of their ranking in Florida. From 2013 to 2020, the Lions finished six-time 2A State Champions or vice-champions.

They also programmed opponents beyond state lines, adding weight and exposure. In the state, Pierre faced players like (former Alabama and current Broncos wide receiver) Jerry Jeudy. And when Champagnat left the state, Pierre always found himself struggling with some of the best receivers in the country.

“One of my favorite clashes was actually further north,” Pierre said. “I played Rondale in high school, Rondale Moore, who plays for (the) Arizona (Cardinals) now. It was probably one of my favorite clashes.

It all caught the recruiting attention Pierre had hoped for (much like a video that went viral in his last year, of Pierre hitting a receiver so hard and cleanly that the ball traveled 6 yards back out of the receiver’s hands. before landing).

Most of this attention has come from the Group of Five level: Florida Atlantic, Appalachian State, Miami, Ohio, with lower division schools like Tennessee State and Valdosta State also involved.

Jalen Nailor # 8 of the Michigan State Spartans runs the ball and is tackled by Noah Pierre # 21 of the Indiana Hoosiers during the second half at Memorial Stadium on October 16, 2021 in Bloomington, Indiana.

Indiana was interested. Then safety coach Noah Joseph was sold to Pierre, but with the time elapsing in 2018 and little room left in the Hoosiers recruiting class, Tom Allen needed help. ‘a little more conviction.

“It was just a matter of deciding whether we were going to go in or not. We liked a lot about him. I knew he was going to have an amazing attitude, tough, brave, combative, competitive, ”Allen said. “It was one of those instinctive calls from me. Our secondary coaches wanted and loved it. I said, ‘OK, let’s go.’ “

Pierre paid a visit at the end of the cycle. Her mother loved the campus and the UI facilities, and her great-grandmother got along very well with Allen. He signed with the Hoosiers that winter.

“When I first met the LEO (message), it really touched me,” Cannady said. “I hadn’t seen this in other schools.

Pierre made an appearance in his red shirt season in 2018, before playing in 10 of 13 games the following season. Safety by position, Pierre did a lot of his best job on the special teams.

Meanwhile, improved recruiting allowed Allen to flood his high school with talent.

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Starting in 2017-19, IU recruited players who would become mainstays in every position in the defensive field, including an Army All-American cornerback, an IndyStar Mr. Football, and a possible NFL draft pick.

Pierre moved around in this group, filling up whenever asked. He played Safety, Corner and Husky, Allen’s hybrid safety / linebacker room. And he’s carved out an increasingly important role in special teams, even though he never started defensively.

And, at a time when it was never so easy or culturally accepted within college football to transfer in search of more playing time, he never considered swapping Bloomington for another location.

“It’s something you don’t see very often these days,” said assistant head coach and cornerback Brandon Shelby. “Everyone wants what they want now. They want instant gratification. This is not largely the fault of the young people. It’s our coaches, our teachers, our parents, that if you don’t get what you want now, because you deserve it now, then you stop. The transfer portal made it possible for young men to do this.

“When you look at Noah, he’s a guy who fought hard. He was like a switchblade (knife), a jack of all trades. “

Peter’s assessment is much simpler.

“Indiana chose me, and I chose them too,” he said. “Leaving never really crossed my mind. “

By staying on, Pierre has become the kind of player on whom the contributions of successful programs are built. Front-line talent will always be crucial, of course, but so too will institutional knowledge and seasoned leadership.

And, for a program so accustomed to painfully missing the toughest teams on its schedule, a player like Pierre provides the quality depth that helps the Hoosiers stay the course.

“Because he’s smart, we can move him around and plug him in different positions,” said safety coach Jason Jones. “And every time we’ve asked her to move out, it’s just ‘Yes, sir.’ He adopted it. He will walk into the movie theater, dig, watch a tape, study, learn everything he needs to know about this job. He is a perfect example of the type of young man who is ready to do it. whatever it takes for the team.

Indiana's Noah Pierre (21) intercepts a pass to Michigan State's Simeon Barrow (8) during the Indiana vs. Michigan State football game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, October 16, 2021.

With injuries to Reese Taylor and Tiawan Mullen draining high school, Indiana asked Pierre – more of a safety lately – to roll in the corner for last weekend’s game against Michigan State.

Against what had been one of the Big Ten’s most explosive offenses at that time, the Hoosiers pitched Pierre against the Spartans.

Like any team would, Michigan State targeted Pierre, testing if he could cover effectively, especially in head-to-head situations. And, naturally, Pierre ended up on the wrong side of some of those targets.

“When people grab you, it’s human nature: you kinda look inside,” Shelby said. “He stayed the course and gave us the opportunity to win the game.

When Pierre struggled, his more experienced teammates were keen to encourage him on the UI sidelines. And Shelby, who had brought Pierre back to the area a few weeks earlier, remained relentlessly positive.

“Coach Shelby looked at him and said, ‘Hey you stay focused on your job and I guarantee you the next time they throw it you’ll intercept it,” Jones said. “The next game he comes out, they throw him, he gets the interception. All the guys, whoosh, they just kiss (Pierre).

Pierre’s fourth-quarter pick set up what turned out to be IU’s last practice, one the Hoosiers couldn’t turn into points in a 20-15 loss.

But it was at the very least a validation moment for the fourth-year junior, a moment in the spotlight after years of working largely outside of it.

With Mullen and Taylor both questionable, Pierre could be needed again this weekend, against Ohio State and what could be college football’s best wide receiver group. If he is, he will stand where asked and do his best, as he always does.

It might have been easier at times to pack up and leave, but it never crossed Peter’s mind. He worked hard to overcome this sizable drawback when he was young and to get the recruiting attention he felt he deserved in high school. There is no reason to change course now.

“He’s always been ready to fight,” Cannady said. “He knew how to surpass himself and be there for his team. He was always ready. He was ready, and he was waiting for her.

“While waiting to be able to put on and show for his team. “

Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.

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