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Wagner native St. Pierre attending Chargers' rookie mini camp

Former Wagner and University of Sioux Falls football player Solomon St. Pierre competes in a game last year in Sioux Falls. (Garrick Hodge/Republic)

SAN DIEGO -- In terms of making his way in the NFL, one door closed for Solomon St. Pierre last weekend.

But when the Minnesota Vikings didn’t sign the Wagner native, St. Pierre wasn’t ready to back down from his lifelong dream.

The former University of Sioux Falls standout defensive back will have another shot at pro football after receiving an invitation to attend a rookie minicamp with the San Diego Chargers, starting today.

“I’m going to keep trying,” St. Pierre told The Daily Republic in a phone interview on Thursday from San Diego. “This is my dream and I won’t give up on it.”

Once St. Pierre left the Vikings’ minicamp without a contract Sunday, the Chargers contacted him with a new opportunity.

“San Diego was a team that was always interested in me right away,” St. Pierre said. “They were always on the horizon for me, but I just wanted to give the Vikings a go first because they were a little closer to home. Obviously, it didn’t work out, so I’m just glad I got another chance out here.”

St. Pierre was a highly decorated player for USF, earning 16 total All-American honors. He was a two-time all-NSIC selection, named HERO Sports National Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and USF’s first-ever finalist for the Cliff Harris Defensive Player of the Year Award.

At Wagner, St. Pierre set a South Dakota record for most interceptions in a career with 22 for the Red Raiders.

“I know I can play fast, that’s the reason they’re even giving me a shot,” St. Pierre said. “(The Chargers) liked my film and stuff like that, so I hope I can make the most of this chance.”

Those accolades aren’t going to get St. Pierre a spot on the Chargers’ 53-man roster, though. As he found out during the Vikings’ minicamp last weekend, St. Pierre has only a few days to make an impression on San Diego coach Mike McCoy and the rest of the coaching staff.

“This level is really fast. No one is really waiting for you,” St. Pierre said. “You just have to come up and show coaches that you can do it.

He added he received a copy of the playbook after the organization contacted him and will have to have his formations memorized when he walks into the training facility.

“You have to know that thing like the back of your hand,” he said. “At the next level, there’s a lot more terminology and meaning behind motions and stuff like that. The offenses are bigger, and there’s much faster guys you have to prepare for here.”

St. Pierre hopes to join a secondary that was 14th in passing yards allowed per game (237) in 2015. He won’t pass everyone’s eye test being listed at 5-foot-11, 178-pounds, but height won’t be a disadvantage to the ball-hawking cornerback. St. Pierre is as tall or taller than seven of the nine cornerbacks on the Chargers’ roster.

“I have to bring a lot of focus and dedication to this squad. They really need help for some defense, so I have a great shot of making it there,” St. Pierre said. “I know I will also have to contribute on special teams. I just have to completely focus and buy in and I’m prepared to do that.”

If things don’t go St. Pierre’s way with San Diego, he said he’s open to other opportunities, such as the Canadian Football League. He won’t give that route any thought until it becomes necessary, though.

“It just depends on if everything falls to place this weekend,” St. Pierre said. “Eventually (I might look into it). But right now, I want to take a shot at the NFL. We’re going to do everything we can to get me on a squad.”

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