It’s all about competition for 2016 prospect Perry
The standout defensive tackle may still be a month away from starting his junior season at Memphis Academy of Health Sciences, but he’s already built like a college player. And he has the drive to be one of the most highly recruited players for the 2016 signing class.
“I come to camps to increase my chance for high-level competition. When you go to these national invitation camps, you get to see where you’re at as a player,” said Perry, who was one of almost 200 players that took part in the Southern Elite Combine held at Lafayette High this past week.
Perry (6-foot, 327 pounds) already has scholarship offers from Ole Miss and Tennessee. His offers came three days apart on May 6 and May 9.
Perry has the ability to play nose guard, as well as three-technique defensive tackle. The two players he looks to for inspiration are Vince Wilfork, of the New England Patriots, and Buffalo Bills tackle Marcell Dareus, who played college football at Alabama.
“I can play whatever role a team needs me to play,” Perry said. “I can fit in to a team that plays a three-man front. I can fit in with a four or five front. In high school, we have a defense where I line up in the three spot. We also have a thing that we call ‘Banjo Nose,’ where I line up at nose guard and we have two defensive ends. It’s whatever can help the team win.”
The offers from Ole Miss and Tennessee showed Perry that the last two years of hard work have started to pay off.
“My bench press reps had been real low, and I just started working on it,” said Perry, who just benched pressed 185 pounds 19 times at the combine. “It was about building a work ethic, and that’s why I come to camps like this, to gain exposure.”
Maurice Harris is the Rebels’ assistant coach in charge of building a relationship between Perry and Ole Miss. Harris is originally from Memphis, a fact not lost on Perry.
“I like how he talks to me. He also talked with my grandmother,” Perry said. “She wasn’t too sure about Ole Miss, about the racial things going on. He put her at ease by telling her that he was from Memphis, I work at Ole Miss, I’m a football coach and there is nothing that goes on here that doesn’t go on anywhere else. He eased her out of the overall perception that other people have about Ole Miss. And now, she is just as happy with Ole Miss as I am.”
Perry came to Ole Miss’ elite level camp in June and then competed against offensive linemen in one-on-one drills. That’s when he started to build a relationship with Ole Miss defensive line coach Chris Kiffin.
“Me and him are cool. He just relates real well with the recruits,” said Perry, who is close to Herbert Moore, a former Memphis East defensive tackle that was redshirted by the Rebels in 2013. “I’ve been an Ole Miss fan just about all my life. I’ve always watched Ole Miss, so when I got the Ole Miss offer, I was pretty much already sold. I’m still open as far as recruiting, and I’m looking at Tennessee, or any other school that may offer”
Northwestern, Rutgers, Purdue and Kentucky are the other schools that have had contact with Perry.
“All the coaches tell me that they like that I have long arms and a good first step,” he said. “They like my tenacity off the ball. That’s why I look up to Marcell Dareus, because he’s not just a nose guard, he can also get off the ball and rush the passer and get sacks.”
Memphis Academy of Health Sciences is a 1A-level school that takes on teams from all levels in the Shelby County area.
“We can win a championship and we’re very competitive in our division,” Perry said. “We have a new head coach, a new athletics director and new uniforms. I’m liking the vibe that’s coming into the program, and that’s one of the reasons I decided to stay and contribute to the program.”