The 2018 season didn’t go the way Bloomington Jefferson had hoped. Injuries quickly sidetracked what looked to be a promising season for the team. Individually, however, junior Pierce Oppong developed into an explosive defender who has college programs taking notice.…
The 2018 season didn’t go the way Bloomington Jefferson had hoped. Injuries quickly sidetracked what looked to be a promising season for the team. Individually, however, junior Pierce Oppong developed into an explosive defender who has college programs taking notice.
“Our starting quarterback and starting running back both got hurt in the first game,” Oppong said.
The Jaguars would only win two games, but Oppong saw the potential in his team.
“We started to adapt to the injuries, but there is still a lot of room for development – on the field and in the weight room. We learned how to work hard. Although our record wasn’t very good, we found a lot of places to grow.”
For his junior season, Oppong returned to a familiar position.
“I could have done better, but I feel like I had a pretty good season. I didn’t play much defensive end as a sophomore, but as a junior, I got a lot of time at defensive end. I was in on a lot of tackles, and I think I had seven sacks.”
He knows his role as a senior will likely expand.
“I know I need to work on my conditioning,” Oppong admitted. “I might be playing both sides of the ball next season a lot more than this year.”
As the season went on, Oppong’s role was adjusted.
“At the beginning of the season I was usually the left defensive end,” the junior explained. “Later in the season, the coaches had me as the weakside defensive end. We had another end who was bigger, so they kept him on the strong side.”
Oppong explained to northstarfootballnews.com why he felt he was successful last season.
“I am quick off the ball. Most people don’t expect me to be that quick for my size. I feel like I am good at shedding blockers and finding ways to get hands off me. Although I have been working on some new moves that I plan to use next season.”
A full-time starter at defensive end, Oppong also played some tight end.
“As a tight end I do a good job of finishing my blocks,” the 6’3″ 235-pound junior said. “I am a threat with the ball too. I have decent hands and am fast for my size and can use my size to break tackles as well.”
Oppong – who is active in his church and his church’s youth group – expected his varsity career on the defensive line to start a year earlier.
“My sophomore year I thought I was going to move to defensive end, but during a practice before our first game, our right tackle got injured. I still played offensive line back then, so I played right tackle for most of the season. The last two or three games I switched to defensive end.”
Expecting to play both ways – full-time – as a senior, Oppong has been working on his skills on both sides of the ball.
“One of the things I am focused on is my footwork – especially as a defensive lineman,” Oppong said. “On offense, I have been working on my route running and improving my downfield blocking ability.”
“This winter I went to the weight room,” the junior continued. “I did well my junior year, but I know if I was bigger and stronger, I feel like that would allow me to do other things on the field. This spring I am doing the throwing events on the track team.”
Oppong is planning on working both with the Jefferson football offseason program as well as hitting some college camps.
“I have talked to North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and South Dakota. I have talked to Iowa and Iowa State a little bit as well. I have visited South Dakota, North Dakota and North Dakota State so far.”
Most of the college programs see him as an athletic pass rusher.
“They are looking at me as a third-down pass rushing defensive end,” Oppong said. “I think they like my speed to rush the passer.”
The programs also like the player they envision a few years down the road.
“They said they like my frame and think I have a chance to put on a lot of good weight,” Oppong explained. “They like how quick my feet are for a defensive end and how I can change direction.”
Despite a difficult season, Oppong saw the potential for his team next year. College football programs have seen Oppong’s potential and – so far – like what they see.