June 22, 2021

Signing Day: Despite limited game tape, Lincoln-Way East’s Mason Pierre-Antoine lands spot at NIU

Lincoln-Way East senior Mason Pierre-Antoine didn’t post the type of statistics that screamed Division I prospect during his junior season, but that didn’t stop college coaches from having interest.

Although a starter in name at wide receiver for the Griffins’ 2019 Class 8A state championship team, Pierre-Antoine not only had to contend with A.J. Henning, now at Michigan, for targets, but also with a pair of standout running backs in Jamal Johnson and Devon Williams.

The 6-foot, 175-pound senior hoped to be able to better showcase his potential this fall only to have the coronavirus pandemic push the season to this upcoming spring.

Still, Northern Illinois took notice.

“I made a video to showcase my skills and went to a couple of workouts, and NIU had been following me and showing interest in me,” Pierre-Antoine said. “They took a chance and offered me, and I committed then and there, because I knew I wasn’t going to get a whole lot more chances because of COVID-19.

“Knowing that they had taken a chance on me, without my having as much game film... it had a different effect on me than just a regular offer. It was like they are taking a chance on me, it would have been hard to give up that offer, because they could give it to somebody who has a lot more game film.”

Pierre-Antoine signed his National Letter of Intent Wednesday. Football players can sign with D-I and D-II schools for football Wednesday through Friday in the NCAA’s early football signing period. The next period runs from Feb. 3 through April 1.

Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said Pierre-Antoine also received interest from Northern Iowa, Illinois State, Illinois and Iowa.

“Mason has worked extremely hard to become a top wide receiver in the Midwest and a Division I scholarship player,” Zvonar said. “He possesses tremendous speed, strength and ball skills that make it very hard on defenses to contain him. Mason is a high character young man, who is extremely coachable and a true pleasure to be around.”

NIU coach Thomas Hammock echoed Zvonar’s sentiments Wednesday, and said that Pierre-Antoine’s tape made up for a lack of game action.

“We were able to get some video of him running routes, working out, running 40s, vertical jump, different things that we saw enough to feel comfortable and confident about him,” Hammock said. “The level of detail for him to be able to run routes at such a young age, give us confidence we can plug him into our offense at multiple spots.”

• Here is a list of local players who can sign their National Letters of Intent with NCAA scholarship football schools starting on Wednesday.

  • Zachary Barlev (Plainfield East) – Illinois
  • Jameson Geers (Providence) – Minnesota
  • Trent Howland (Joliet West) – Indiana
  • Jamal Johnson (Lincoln-Way East) – Bowling Green
  • Matt Kordas (Lincoln-Way East) – Bowling Green
  • Tyler McLaurin (Bolingbrook) – Michigan
  • Mason Pierre-Antoine (Lincoln-Way East) – Northern Illinois
  • Malik Rainey (Bolingbrook) – Cincinnati
  • Ryan Stewart (Lincoln-Way East) – San Jose State
  • Justin Walters (Bolingbrook) – Notre Dame
  • Devean Washington (Joliet Catholic) – Navy
  • Jabril Williams (Joliet Catholic) – Army

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie has been the Sports Editor at the Joliet Herald News since August of 2018. Prior to that, Soucie worked at the Kankakee Daily Journal and for Pro Football Weekly.

Kyle Nabors

Kyle Nabors is Shaw Local's Group Sports Editor and has been with Shaw Media since 2017.