Jason Pierre-Paul, proud owner of two Pro Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl ring during his eight-year tenure with the Giants, was discovered by accident?
It’s hard to believe after a now 11-year NFL run that includes two Super Bowl titles, including this past season with the Buccaneers, but back in Pierre-Paul’s college days, he was an overlooked defensive end that needed a stroke of luck to be discovered by NFL scouts. He got that good fortune with former Giants scout Marc Ross.
Ross joined WJFK’s Zach Brook’s Upon Further Review podcast on Monday and relived a story that saw Ross take a trip to the University of South Florida, where he stumbled upon an unknown that would go on to become a pillar of the Giants defensive line.
“He had just gotten to South Florida and was kind of an unknown,” Ross said of Pierre-Paul. “He had went to junior college, a couple different junior colleges and went to South Florida, and at the time South Florida had a guy named George Selvie. He was an All-American and at the time had I believe 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, he was the guy you were going into South Florida to see.”
Ross went into the defensive line meeting room to watch more film on Selvie, then wearing number 95 for the Bulls, but Ross couldn’t take his eyes off of another defensive end, this one wearing number 90.
“I’m watching tape and this number 90 just keeps jumping off the tape,” Ross said. “I had to keep checking the chart. I’m supposed to be watching George Selvie, he was 95, but this 90 guy…I kept looking up and thinking ‘Damn, I must be looking at the wrong guy.’ But it was JPP.”
Once Ross confirmed he was not actually watching Selvie in a different uniform, he had to know more about the player that would go on to be drafted 15th overall by the Giants in 2010.
“I asked ‘What’s up with this guy?’” Ross said. “And sure enough, he just kept getting better and better throughout the year, and they played Rutgers later in the year, and I brought our GM at the time Jerry Reese and told him ‘You gotta come see this guy.’”
Reese and the rest of the Giants staff saw all they needed to see, and the rest is history, with Pierre-Paul logging 58.5 sacks for New York during his time in blue, along with 87 tackles for a loss. Selvie, Ross’s main objective on that trip to South Florida, was picked in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft, and went on to join Pierre-Paul and the Giants in 2015. Selvie appeared in 12 games that season and made three starts, but that was it for his NFL career. Meanwhile, Pierre-Paul is coming off another Pro Bowl season.
“Even up to the draft, he was kind of an unknown,” Ross said. “Just to see him in the Super Bowl this year and comer full circle for him and all he’s been through off the field, it’s really a unique story. They’ll do a documentary on his career one day.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1