Commentary

Pierre-Paul: Who are you calling raw?

Newcomer eager to learn from Giants' DEs -- and show that, yes, he knows the game

Updated: April 25, 2010, 1:47 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jason Pierre-Paul knows he's walking into a crowded situation and that playing time might be scarce at defensive end.

Still, the newest Giant sees only a positive situation. In fact, he hopes he can learn from Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora. General manager Jerry Reese insists he will not trade Umenyiora, thus leaving the Giants with five defensive ends including Dave Tollefson.

"I know they have a lot of defensive ends," Pierre-Paul said on a conference call with reporters on Friday. "I'm ready to learn from them, you know. I'm ready for them to teach me [how] the whole process goes because they have been there and they know the defense. I'm ready to learn and help."

The Giants understand that their choice of Pierre-Paul at 15th overall comes with risk. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound specimen played only one season of high-level college football at South Florida before turning pro. He played at College of the Canyons in California and Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, and had only one full season of high school football under his belt.

"Very raw, he still is raw," said Kevin Patrick, a South Florida assistant coach who coached Pierre-Paul and the defensive line last season. "He is a sponge with a little bit of water in it that he got from here. This guy has never had an offseason weight program. It is amazing how explosive he is.

"The first week he was here … he threw one our offensive tackles to the ground. I paused the tape and watched. He gave him a Reggie White underneath counter move, when he threw the guy. This offensive tackle's ear was on the ground but his feet were still in the air when he landed. The guy landed on his ear.

"He has so much for a guy that is so long and tall. He can bend those knees and get underneath and he has raw power. You don't realize how big he is and how powerful he is."

Greg Minnis couldn't believe his eyes the first time he saw Pierre-Paul. Back then, Pierre-Paul was a high school basketball player and Minnis, then the high school football coach at Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School, stopped in his tracks when he saw Pierre-Paul playing hoops outside with friends at the school.

Pierre-Paul was dunking all over the other guys on the court and Minnis immediately began recruiting the basketball player to come play football. He finally accomplished his mission when Pierre-Paul relented.

Minnis knew Pierre-Paul would be a great football player -- and this was before he saw the athlete do back flips. Pierre-Paul has since become a YouTube sensation for his flips.

"He was like a man against boys," Minnis recalled of seeing Pierre-Paul on the basketball court. "[Then] all those flips that he would do. That was definitely freakish to see this kid with all the height and size doing all those flips. It was like, 'What in the world?'"

The buzzword the Giants like to use for Pierre-Paul is "raw." But the defensive end doesn't seem to like that label too much.

"When I'm on the field, I do know what I'm doing," Pierre-Paul said. "Otherwise I wouldn't be on the field, you know. I don't consider myself raw because I know what I'm doing.

"For the last three years, everywhere I went, they called me raw. At times they may call me raw, but in the future they will see that I know what I'm doing."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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