Just a handful of high school players in Kern County get to play football at the Division I level. Names like Carr and Kessler have been followed through the ranks on their journey to the pros but as we near the NFL Draft, Kern County residents need to get ready for another Bakersfield name to be called.
Dozens of people packed into Grace Apostolic Community Church to hear about the football journey of Dale Pierson. Pierson grew up with the dream of playing football at the D-I level but after graduating from Independence High School he received not one offer.
"In high school what I ended up telling myself was 'No one believes in me and all I gotta do is prove myself," Pierson said. After high school he went to play defensive end at Pasadena City College where he showed the explosiveness that would finally get him looks from coaches.
During his two seasons in Pasadena he tallied 112 tackles and 14 total tackles and the D-I offers started rolling in. In 2014 he signed to play for Iowa State. Cyclone fans quickly gave him the nickname "Sack Mamba" which he still uses as his twitter handle.
However shortly after signing he hit what he called "a wall." He had to learn a new system, saw limited playing time and to make things even harder, his fiance and newborn daughter were still in Bakersfield.
"It was really hard," said his fiance, Jazelle Corral. "I felt like I was doing it alone even though I would call him late at night. But we still stuck by each other's side."
But through all those struggles Dale finally found the success he had been searching for. Playing against Texas Tech at the end of the 2014 season, Pierson recorded his first sack. "Everyday I was talking to God, asking God for everything and once I finally got it the only thing I knew to do was point up and say thank you."
The celebration that started with his first sack he would go on to do eight more times. In 2015 he recorded 8.5 sacks tying the school record set in 2006 by Shawn Moorehead, a goal he set the day he signed.
While no part of his journey went according to plan, Pierson says he wouldn't have it any other way. "Nope, never. I'd do it exactly the same way."
As for his NFL future, draft boards have him projected to go anywhere from the 5th-7th rounds or even as an undrafted free agent. Stick with 23ABC for the latest on his journey.
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