The first time Demornay Pierson-El played football, he was about four or five years old.
Since then, the West Potomac High School junior has lived and breathed the sport, becoming the player to watch in Fairfax County this high school football season.
Oddly, Pierson-El said he didn’t really know what football was, but watched it on television and always wanted to play. Eventually, his mother signed him up for a local youth league in his neighborhood and he has played the sport ever since.
“I didn’t know what it was, but I know I wanted to play, so I went out there and played,” Pierson-El said.
Halfway through this year's season, Pierson-El already has more than 13 touchdowns and more than 670 rushing yards. In one game alone, Pierson-El scored six touchdowns against South County.
Head Coach Jeremiah Davis said Pierson-El always provides exactly what the team needs. Davis said sometimes it may be something Pierson-El may not want to do, but he does it anyway to help the team.
“Whenever we’ve needed something, he’s provided it for us — almost to a point where we have to explain to other guys that we can’t depend on him solely, but he takes responsibility on his shoulders,” Davis said.
The 5’9” wide receiver said football is a stress reliever, even though his much larger opponents spend 48 minutes every Friday night trying to tackle him to the ground. On some days, Pierson-El said he jogs from his home to the football field at West Potomac just to take it all in.
What he feels while playing football is what kept him going all of these years and what will continue to fuel his passion for the game.
“It takes stress off my mind. It’s like my getaway from everything,” he said. “No matter what changes in my life, football will always be there, always be that game that I have so much love and passion for.”
Davis said he has come to know Pierson-El over the years and he knows his sense of responsibility to the team is something he has carried over to the field from his upbringing at home.
“What he does in practice and what he does at home, he brings out to the field,” Davis said. “In the classroom, he’s a diligent student and he comes out here and he’s a student of the game.”
Pierson-El’s grandmother, Louise Carter, said she knew almost immediately that the sport would be a blessing to the high school junior and would take him far in life.
“I actually am more interested in the sport to get him a scholarship. I really want him to excel in education to become something that he wants to do besides football,” Carter said. “I know that’s his passion, but I do know there are limitations on football. I pray God that this football will get him a scholarship so he can excel in whatever profession.”
With his progress as a player and as a student, Pierson-El is on the right track to do exactly that. He said he doesn’t want to stay in his old neighborhood, and getting his education is top priority for him.
“I would like to attend West Virginia University for athletic training,” Pierson-El said. “I know I want to get my bachelor’s degree, but I’m still thinking about getting my master’s degree, but I’m not too sure about that. I definitely want to further my education. If you don’t have education you don’t have anything.”
Pierson-El acknowledges his dream is to play in the NFL, but if it doesn’t work out he wants to be prepared with another career where he can still be a part of the sport.
“I just want to be around it [football] as an agent or an athletic trainer or a coach.” Pierson-El said. “I have a dream. I have a goal, and I’m going to continue to put my best foot forward to achieve that goal.”
About Demornay Pierson-El
- Favorite TV Show: The Boondocks (even though it's canceled)
- Favorite movie: Love & Basketball
- Game day rituals: Staying hydrated and loose, doing a little workout before every game, listening to music; "People say I turn into an animal. That starts off early in the morning. It's Friday, and I'm ready to go."
- Other extracurricular/sports: Basketball and track
- Idol: Ray Lewis; "He's a commander. I watch his videos and speeches. What he says gets to me in a certain way. He empowers me to be a better student, to be a better athlete and everything I do to not come in last. Be the first one on the field and the last to walk off and no matter what to hold your head high."
- Favorite color: Green ("It's a sign of success.")
- Hobbies: Working out, helping out at local community center, and swimming
- Nicknames: D-Money, D-Spill, Mornay, D
- One word to describe himself: Ambitious
- If you were stranded on an island, what's the one thing you'd have with you? Resources, a survival kit (knife, first aid, flare gun, etc.) "My grandfather has taught me how to survive and my sister is in the military so I know things I could do if something happened. I'd figure it out."