Baylor football alum Jalen Pitre’s star on the rise after breakout rookie season in the NFL
Pop quiz: Which first-year NFL player led all rookies in tackles in 2022, finishing 11th overall? If you know the answer, chances are you’re a Houston Texans fan. But if you predicted this would happen before the season started — you’re probably a Baylor Bear.
That standout rookie is Baylor’s own Jalen Pitre (BBA ’20, MSED ’21), now a starting safety for the Texans.
“The one who stayed” is legendary in Waco both for his on-field production, and for his character and leadership. Pitre’s notoriety began with him being the only player in his original 2017 recruiting class to honor his commitment to Baylor, but his story only built as he became a consensus all-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, not to mention a second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft by his hometown Houston Texans.
The Texans were rewarded with immediate production. At safety, Pitre led all NFL rookies with 147 tackles and was second among all rookies with five interceptions — the only rookie since at least 2000 to top even 125 tackles with five interceptions. Such numbers earned him a spot on the Pro Football Writers All-Rookie Team, and led to Pitre’s name being mentioned at times among Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates. Media outlets have recognized him as a potential “breakout performer” for 2023 and an “unsung hero” on a young Texans team.
Even more meaningfully, when the Texans chose former team star DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach, he specifically cited Pitre as a player to build around at his introductory press conference.
“Seeing Jalen Pitre, loved him coming out of Baylor,” Ryans said. “Loved the blitzing, loved the play speed of Pitre. To see him come out this past year — five interceptions, the way he attacked the ball — man, Jalen, we got to continue to do that.”
Just like his head coach, Baylor fans can’t wait to see what’s in store one of the best defensive players in program history and one of the most promising young players in the NFL.
Sic ’em, Jalen Pitre!