Lindenwood University defensive back Pierre Desir has been chosen as the recipient of the inaugural Cliff Harris Award, which will be presented annually to the nation’s top small college defensive player.
Desir was chosen from a group of more than 5,000 defensive players representing almost 500 NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA colleges and universities. For the list of finalists and nominees go to.
The award is named in honor of former Dallas Cowboy great Cliff Harris, an Arkansas native who was offered only one college scholarship to then-NAIA Ouachita Baptist University. Harris was passed over for the 1970 NFL draft. He signed a free agent contract with the Cowboys and then helped lead Dallas to five Super Bowl appearances during the next decade. Harris played in six Pro Bowls.
“I’m very pleased to have Pierre Desir as the inaugural winner of the Cliff Harris Award,” Harris said. “He has a tremendous story, starting with his family’s move to the United States from Haiti. He didn’t begin playing football until the 9th grade, which is when I started. He has worked hard and in the process has become one of the best college defensive backs in the nation. I wish him the best as he pursues his dream of playing in the NFL. I also want to congratulate all of our outstanding finalists and nominees. I wish I could give a trophy to every one of them. They’re all elite players. I’m proud and impressed they are proving that the best football isn’t always played at the FBS and FCS level. Players from Division II, Division III and NAIA deserve their share of respect and recognition.”
Desir is 6-2, 206 pounds. He was a three-time All-American and one of the most respected defensive enforcers in the nation. Lindenwood coaches estimate that only 5 percent of opponent passes were thrown in his direction. Still, he had four interceptions, eight pass breakups and 12 passes defended. He finished his career ranked first in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association history with 52 passes defended and his 25 career interceptions are the second most in conference history and represent one of the more outstanding career marks in small college history.
Desir will play in the East/West Shrine game on January 18th in Tropicana Field in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Desir is a Haitian born player, that came to the United States at the age of 4. Desir is a very solid small school corner and rated as our top small school defender.