Only the biggest stages can handle him and he is no stranger to postseason matchups. He is a member of the reigning Pac-12 champions: the Washington Huskies.
“Everybody wants to beat us because we won the Pac-12 [championship] last year,” linebacker Keishawn Bierria said. “But my goal is to go out there and win it again. You’re not hunting me, I’m hunting you.”
The linebacker enters his senior year off a promising 2016 campaign, starting all 14 games resulting in five fumble recoveries, more than any player in the NCAA FBS that season.
He made two sacks for 17 yards and a kick return for 45 yards. Off that kick return, Bierria made his first touchdown for the Huskies during their 44-18 rout against the Arizona State Sun Devils. He registered 5.0 tackles for loss for 25 yards.
With help from Bierria, Washington was ranked fourth in the AP rankings, only suffering two losses. The Huskies decimated the Colorado Buffs 41-10 in the Pac-12 Championship match, the Washington defense holding the Buffs to 163 total yards.
Despite losing the national semifinal 24-7 against the top ranked Alabama, Bierria made seven tackles. Building the program into the national power that it is today took some trial and error, according to Bierria.
“We really had to just figure out what’s the best thing for this team and the first thing was building unity,” he said. “So now, we got guys who [are] barbequing every weekend, everybody just hanging out with each other.”
In the offseason, Bierria went on a study abroad trip to Hawaii to finish his minor in anthropology.
“It was a great trip, we did some farming,” he said in an interview with the Pac-12 Network. “We farmed Taro plant which is like the indigenous plant of Hawaii.”
As a junior, Bierria made 70 tackles, 42 of them being unassisted. The team elected Bierria to be the recipient of the 109th annual Guy Flaherty Most Inspirational Award.
Bierria, a Carson native, attended Narbonne High school after transferring from Carson; he played for both football teams. Playing for the Gauchos was helpful for Bierria and his talent helped give the football program a dominant reputation.
“We definitely had a really good team chemistry, they definitely focused on us off the field more than on the field as far as academics, making sure we were college ready,” he said. “We just had to strive for what we knew we can succeed for and we actually did it.”
The Gauchos only endured four losses over the span of Bierria’s junior and senior seasons. Bierria helped Narbonne to the team’s back-to-back City Section Championships in 2011 and 2012. His talent pegged him on the All-CIF City Section first team and earned him playing time in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl as a senior.
“When I first went to Narbonne, people didn’t really think we [could] be in a playoff game,” Bierria said. “I looked at the athletes on the team, I was like, ‘we’re pretty good, I think we might end up playing Mater Dei or beating someone like Corona Centennial,’ and sure enough, we end up winning two back-to-back championships.”