His five-year career at South Dakota State saw Pierre Strong regularly push the boundaries of the “running back” label. The former two-star recruit did not only advance the football as a ball-carrier, he also served as a receiver out of the backfield, saw time in the kicking game, and even attempted the occasional pass.
Now having joined the New England Patriots as a fourth-round draft pick, he vows to keep his mindset unchanged. Whatever the team needs him to do, he is willing to do.
“I’m a ‘do anything for the team’ type of guy,” Strong said shortly after the Patriots used the 127th overall selection in this year’s draft on him.
“Anything, just helping the team out any way I can. Out of the backfield, special teams, anything of that nature so, that’s just my style. I’m just willing to help the team win a Super Bowl and that’s just me.”
Strong appeared in 48 games during his time with the Jackrabbits, and finished his college career with 631 carries for 4,527 yards and 40 touchdowns. Additionally, he caught 62 passes for 581 yards and three more scores.
His contributions extended beyond those plays, however. Strong returned five kickoffs for an average gain of 25.4 yards, and also attempted nine passes: he completed all of them for a combined 208 yards and six touchdowns. Four of those attempts — covering a combined 62 yards and resulting in four TDs — came during his 2021 senior campaign.
“I love having the ball in my hands on trick plays,” Strong said. “I played quarterback when I was younger and it’s still with me a little bit. I still throw a little bit.”
Over the last few years, New England has not been afraid of using its skill position players outside of their listed role. Just last year, wide receivers Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers both attempted passes; in the past, running back James White did the same (as did ex-Patriots Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola).
Strong, meanwhile, is open to any kind of usage as long as it helps the team.
“I’m wherever New England needs me to play, that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “Anything they need me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. That’s the type of person and player I am, so I’m not coming in mainly focused on one thing. I’m focused on whatever coach wants me to focus on. That’s just my mindset.”