IOWA FALLS — Solomon Pierce graduated from Perry High School in May of 2016. Now, nearly 18 months later, Pierce admits the changes in his life have been more than he could have expected.
“When you are in high school, you are playing for fun, kind of just to go out there and have a good time,” Pierce said. “In college you have to work extremely hard for playing time, because there are several guys fighting for one job. It is much more serious, much more like a job. The team is close and everyone has a lot of friends, but it is way different than high school. It is still a lot of fun, but there isn’t any goofing around — you better be serious about it or you won’t make it.”
One change for Pierce has been the purchasing of a new wardrobe.
“The first thing the coaches did was put me on a new diet,” he said. “I came it weighing 180, 185 pounds and they said ‘if we don’t get you to at least 240’ I would be blown away on the line, so in a year-and-half I have put on more than 50 pounds of weight and muscle.”
Pierce said long hours in the weight room had made him far stronger than he ever imagined he could become, but that “waking up at 3 a.m. on purpose just to eat four or five peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches” quickly grew tiring. “After a while, six meals a day … even things you used to like to eat you don’t even want to look at,” he laughed.
The Panthers are 3-8 this season, including giving NJCAA top-ranked Iowa Western CC a close call before falling, 30-20, Nov. 4.
Pierce was a redshirt his first year as he sat out, training and adjusting to the life of a college athlete.
“The coaches but a lot of stress on your classes, on all academics,” he said. “Guys here are thinking about moving up to the next level. Well, you can be the best football player on your team, but if you don’t have at least a 2.5 (GPA) and no D’s you are not going Division 1, and you have to be at 2.0 to play Division II, so there is no messing around.”
“We have study tables and other things to help us, because with practices, watching film, preparing for games and then having classes it is like having a full-time job, except you are not getting paid,” Pierce said. “Hardly any of the guys have a chance to go home during the season — there just is no time.”
Pierce attended Perry’s 62-13 victory at Iowa Falls-Alden Oct. 20 and said he enjoyed seeing old Perry friends and watching the Bluejays score a big win.
A Criminal Justice major, Pierce has one year of eligibility left at ECC, after which he hopes to continue his playing career.
“I would like it be somewhere in Iowa, but if the right offer comes up I will look at it,” he said. “I want to keep playing as long as I can. I love playing football and hope to use it to help me finish college.”