Pierre Desir long ago became resigned to the likelihood that his lifelong NFL dream might not come true.
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound cornerback had greater responsibilities than impressing a bunch of football scouts. He worked his way through a growing Division II college in St. Charles, Mo. With no athletic scholarship, he supported a wife and two children by devoting more than 20 hours a day to his job, schoolwork, practice and family.
So when he starts working out Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium with the other defensive backs at the NFL's scouting combine, it's no wonder Desir will seemingly hear the roar coming from the living room back home.
"It's a combine party," he said, explaining how his family and parents planned to watch the workouts on television. "I can almost see my 7-year-old daughter, yelling 'Go Daddy' and not knowing which one I am out there."
For years, it seemed nobody knew about Desir or whether he would ever make it big.
Low scores on college entrance tests sabotaged his chance to play at a Division I school. Two successful seasons at Washburn College in Kansas, his first Division II school, raised Desir's football profile. It dropped again when he moved back near St. Louis, where both sets of parents could help out. When he tried to resurrect his football career at Lindenwood University, officials at Washburn, a conference rival, refused to grant his release, preventing Desir from getting a scholarship.
But Desir didn't fret. He went to work.
"What happened is that I would wake up at about 5 in the morning, get my older daughter ready for school, go to the temporary service and they'd pick out a few guys to go to different work stations," he said. "You might work on the sewers or in the sewers. I'd go to class, say 11 to 2 or something and then after school, I'd go pick up my daughter. Last year, I had to do the same thing, but I worked at Charter Communications. So I'd go to school from 10 to 2 and work from 4:30 to 2:30 and then get back up at 5."
Sprinkle in a little football practice and film work to the daily routine and Desir didn't have much time for anything else.
While this 23-year-old draft hopeful might seem to have the unlikeliest story of the players at this weekend's combine, the hallways at Lucas Oil Stadium are littered with similar stories of trials, tribulations, underdogs and small-school long shots.
Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin made his first combine appearance Sunday, one month after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament during a Senior Bowl practice. Colvin only got rid of his crutches last week and says doctors have told him he should be ready to practice by the start of training camp, a promising sign heading into May's draft.
Cornerback Travis Carrie came to Indy after six seasons at Ohio University, enduring hip surgery and two torn labrums in his right shoulder after missing one year in high school so he could recover from heart surgery to repair a birth defect.
Baylor cornerback Demetri Goodson followed his heart to Gonzaga, where he played basketball for three seasons, two as the starting point guard. Then he returned to his home state, followed the lead of his NFL playing brother, Mike, and got an extra year of eligibility through an NCAA medical waiver. Last season, after two injury-plagued seasons in Waco, Goodson joined the short list of college athletes who have played in the NCAA men's basketball tournament and a bowl game. He turns 25 in June.