Pierce was a three-star prospect coming out of high school and signed to play wide receiver at Vanderbilt University. He was at Vanderbilt for five years, starting for four of them. He had his best year in 2021 as a fifth-year senior and Vanderbilt’s top wideout, catching 57 passes for 654 yards and two touchdowns.
During his career at Vanderbilt, Pierce caught 109 passes for 1,398 yards and nine touchdowns. Impressively, he averaged almost 13 yards per catch playing in the talent-rich Southeastern Conference. His junior year he averaged 18 yards per catch, including a long of 75. By the time he finished at Vanderbilt in 2022, Pierce’s big-play potential had caught the eye of NFL scouts.
Chris Pierce Jr. was a 4 year starter at Vandy. The 6’4, 235 WR/TE hybrid had 109 catches for 1,398 yards and 9 TDs in his collegiate career. Lots of big play potential as he averaged almost 13 yards per catch in college. Signed with ARI as an UDFA in ‘22. pic.twitter.com/uBMWoDcQsK
Pierce was not drafted last year, but he did sign with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent. The Cardinals moved Pierce from wide receiver to tight end. During the preseason, Pierce had one catch for 19 yards. Unfortunately, Pierce was placed on injured reserve at the end of preseason. He reached an injury settlement with the team but was brought back a few months later to be a part of the practice squad. In July, the Cardinals waived him, and no other NFL team picked him up.
After losing three wide receivers and two tight ends this offseason, it is unsurprising the Stallions moved quickly to bring in Pierce. Chris Pierce Jr. is eerily similar to a player the Stallions lost recently: La’Michael Pettway.
Like Pierce, Pettway played wide receiver in college. His final year at Iowa State, Pettway caught 55 passes for 676 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 12.3 yards per catch. These are remarkably close to Pierce’s numbers (57 catches for 654 yards and two touchdowns with an 11.5 average). Their measurables are nearly identical too. Pettway is 6’2” and 220 pounds with a 79.25-inch wingspan and 4.64 40-yard dash. Pierce is 6’3”, 230 with an 80.75-inch wingspan and 4.65 40. If Pettway and Pierce swapped jerseys, I am not sure anyone would notice.
Pettway did not get an NFL opportunity after college, but fortunately for him the USFL started up a few years after he graduated. Like Pierce, Pettway moved from wide receiver to tight end at the professional level. He got his first shot with the Michigan Panthers, making some impressive plays for them in 2022. He then joined the Stallions early in the 2023 season and ended up being a key contributor for them throughout the year.
After winning a championship in Birmingham, Pettway earned an opportunity to sign with the Indianapolis Colts. Unfortunately, like Pierce in his first year in the league, Pettway was injured and reached an injury settlement with Indianapolis. Pettway is now a free agent, and it is possible we could see him back in Birmingham alongside Pierce in 2024.
Regardless of whether Pettway returns – the Stallions, Skip Holtz, and Zach Potter have found someone who can replace him. Pierce’s skill set should fit in perfectly with the Stallions offense as Pettway’s did last year. Expect Pierce to be a key contributor in 2024 as he looks to prove himself in the USFL, hopefully replicating Pettway’s success and earning a spot back in the league like Pettway was able to do.
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