Considering how young USF's football program is, there isn't a really long list of successes by its alumni and products in the NFL. Players like Kawika Mitchell, Stephen Nicholas, Mike Jenkins, and others have played well and been invaluable assets to their teams. But last night, Jason Pierre-Paul had the first "this guy completely took over the game" performance by a former USF player in the NFL.
Pierre-Paul was already having a Pro Bowl-caliber season before the Giants faced the Cowboys last night. He came into the game with 61 tackles and 11 sacks, but that was before he broke out on national TV. He had eight tackles, collected two sacks, recorded a safety to open the scoring, forced a crucial fumble by Felix Jones late in the first half that led to a Giants field goal, and he was also legally adopted by Cris Collinsworth sometime in the second half. Then on the deciding play, he blocked Dan Bailey's field goal attempt that would have sent the game to overtime.
(We should also shout out Mike Jenkins here. Even though Eli Manning threw for 400 yards, very few of them came against whoever Jenkins was covering. Jenkins didn't record a tackle, but he did break up a deep shot to Victor Cruz that could have given the Giants the lead back early in the fourth quarter. Manning ended up throwing an interception to end that possession, and the Cowboys scored two plays later.)
Before last season I was asked to write a piece about Pierre-Paul for a preseason magazine put together by SBN's Giants blog, Big Blue View. I don't know if they ended up using it (Ed Note: They dd), but here's a little bit of what I wrote that turned out prophetic:
Some first-round picks are Maseratis, and some are Hummers. A Hummer draft pick is one where it's going to run well no matter what the conditions are. Jason Pierre-Paul is a Maserati. You wouldn't leave a Maserati out in your driveway when it's raining, forget to change the oil on time, ignore the scheduled maintenance, and just drive the hell out of it. But if you take care of it properly and use it the way it was meant to be used, then you've got one spectacular machine.
The Giants brought him along perfectly, and now they have one of the best defensive ends in the NFL. Good job all around.