East St. John High safety Pittman living up to his family legacy
Published 12:01 am Saturday, June 10, 2017
RESERVE — East St. John High defensive back D’Andrei Pittman doesn’t just have big shoes to fill, he has a big name to live up to.
As in Darwin Pittman, his dad, a former quarterback and wide receiver who is now a star in the Arena Football League in Mexico.
As in Thomas Pittman, his uncle, a former high school All-American who spent three seasons as a minor league baseball player before walking on the football team at Florida.
As in Kirston Pittman, another uncle, who was a standout at LSU before injuries slowed him down.
All were standout players at East St. John, where D’Andrei is now a rising senior.
“I hear it a lot,” the 17-year-old said.
“I hear it around school constantly. It’s an honor, but at the same time you have to work hard. I’m looking forward to the season to prove I can fulfill the legacy and fill the shoes I was left to fill.”
D’Andrei is off to a good start.
A 6-foot-1, 185-pound outside linebacker and strong safety, D’Andrei already has an offer from Alabama A&M and interest from Northwestern State, Nicholls State and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
He also is one of the few high school football players willing to put his ACT score (21) and his grade point average (3.0) in his Twitter profile.
“He’s going to be a good one,” said East St. John head football coach Aldon Foster.
“He’s young. He’ll be blessed at 17 when he gets a college scholarship. He stands out on the field. He’s just a great kid. He works his butt off.”
Even Foster knew of the Pittman name before coming to East St. John three years ago. He and Darwin both played for Southern University.
“I was familiar with the name,” Foster said. “I had followed his dad.”
D’Andrei said his father, who is currently playing for the Monterrey Steel of the newly formed National Arena League, tells him it’s important to live up to the name.
“He tells me, ‘You’ve got to remember who you are and where you came from,’” D’Andrei said.
“He says, ‘You’ve got to work hard. You’ve got to show that you’re a leader, that you can get it done.’”
Darwin, who is on injured reserve with a herniated disc, said he and his brothers try hard not to put any pressure on D’Andrei to live up to the family name.
“We want him to know that there’s no pressure from us,” Darwin said. “A lot of the pressure comes from his coaches and those in the community. I just want him to go out and work hard on and off the field. I tell him, what happens off the field is just as important as what happens on the field. I’m very, very proud of him. I can’t wait for the season.”
Darwin also tells his son not to show weakness or let opponents know that the game can get him down.
That was tough to do last year as a Wildcat.
The team suffered a season of adversity, including a spate of injuries, particularly at the quarterback position.
The Wildcats made the playoffs but lost in the first round to Barbe, 23-19, on a last second Hail Mary pass by the Bucs.
The play and the loss still haunt D’Andrei and his teammates.
“Everyone remembers that play and we’re trying to overcome it,” D’Andrei said. “We’re going to work hard this summer to get back in the season and get better. I’m working hard out here with my teammates.”
Foster also is doing whatever he can to help his players get some real exposure.
Earlier this week he took a group of players to a camp in Alabama, and included a side visit to the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham.
“It’s like a mega camp up there,” Foster said. “We take them every year. There are over 100 coaches from all over the country, all levels. A bunch of the kids came out real excited because they got cards from a bunch of coaches.”
D’Andrei said he enjoyed the trip.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “It was fun getting to meet all the coaches and other players while, at the same time, working on my skills and getting better. It was a great trip.”