Player Capsule: Armand Perry
Weight: 195 pounds
2015 season quick review: In the second game of the season against Cal Poly Perry suffered a severe ankle sprain that ended his year.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: Perry played a role as a freshman, primarily on third downs, and then transitioned from cornerback/nickel back to safety ahead of the 2015 season, where he was set to replace NFL first-round draft pick Damarious Randall. The Sun Devils were limited with their options in the secondary going into the season and were heavily reliant on Perry being able to pick up where Randall left off without a lot of drop off.
Perry looked pretty good at the position in camp and the team's first game and a half before he suffered the ankle injury. He was able to get a medical waiver granted so the year essentially became a redshirt. Now he'll get another shot at the position. ASU struggled mightily in the secondary, finishing last nationally in passing defense. Not having Perry on the field was a major factor, it appeared.
With the status of senior Laiu Moeakiola uncertain due to an apparent hamstring injury, and sophomore Kareem Orr moving from the field safety position, where he had six interceptions last year as a true freshman, to cornerback, Perry is again the focal point of ASU's secondary entering the season. He's added a fair amount of size and strength since arriving at ASU and physically looks more like a safety now than a cornerback. But Perry has coverage skills and athleticism and that's essential at the position.
A lot of the challenge will come down to how instinctual Perry is at play identification and getting to spots on the field where he'll need to be in order to make plays. There's a major range requirement for the field safety in this position as it's almost like the center fielder of the defense. We'll see some additional coverages this year, so he'll have to be adept in man and zone situations and also being physical and smart coming up in run support.
Perry has the physical tools to do all of this. In the past he's had a tendency to be a bit uncomfortable when playing in relaxed man coverage, preferring the feel of close contact. Managing that buffer distance is going to be a challenge at field safety but he has the ability to get his hips around and run with vertical threats and is a physical player coming forward for a safety.
This is one of the key players to ASU's overall defensive success in 2016 because the front seven should be pretty good, particularly against the run, and Graham is going to bring a lot of pressure on passing downs. That puts the safety in a lot of man conflict in wide swaths of field and Perry will need to perform.
Projected depth chart status: The season will open with Perry atop the depth chart at the field side position and that's where he's likely to remain as long he plays to the expectations of himself and ASU's coaches.