Perry Tackles New Assignment

Alex Perry arrived at IU as an offensive tackle, but spent the off-season learning a new position - center. Now, the 6'7", 285-pound redshirt freshman is back on tackle, and thinks his experience on the inside will help him now that he's back on the outside...

Bloomington, Ind. – Alex Perry's new home is a familiar one.

The 6'7", 285-pound redshirt freshman saw the first action of his collegiate career in the season opener against Indiana State, filling in for Rodger Saffold at left tackle when the Hoosier starter went down momentarily with a strained trapezoid late in the third quarter.

"It was great to finally get out there and see what it's like," Perry said.

A year ago it would have come as no surprise that Perry would get his shot at left tackle. After all, that's where he was recruited to play out of Morris (Ill.) Community H.S., and it's where he spent the entire 2006 season. But this past off-season Perry was moved to center, where he was slated to back up Ben Wyss this fall.

Perry remained at center during the majority of camp, but in the days leading up to the season opener IU Offensive Line Coach Bobby Johnson moved him back to second-string left tackle and inserted Matt Moses as the No. 2 center. Perry is unsure if it's a permanent move or a temporary one, but he has no problem being in position limbo.

"I'm playing left tackle right now, I'll play wherever they want me," Perry said.

Johnson has been taking a look at Perry at a variety of spots since he's arrived in Bloomington. Perry believes that will help in the long run, wherever it is he winds up playing.

"It's kind of nice because you get to see the bigger picture and see a lot of different positions," Perry said. "Now I feel like I pretty much know every position on the line."

A good athlete with good hands and feet, Perry's move to center appears to have been originally motivated by a desire to get him on the playing field. A year ago Perry was behind fellow freshman James Brewer on the depth chart at tackle, while another freshman, Mike Stark, was second-string on the right side. Both had drawn rave reviews from Johnson, meaning Perry's prospects for playing time at tackle appeared bleak.

"I'd heard rumors they were going to ask me (to move to center)," Perry said. "So I wasn't shocked. But I was more than willing to do it – anything to play. That's was where my best chance was at the time."

But Brewer has been all but lost for the season due to foot surgery, leaving a hole to be filled on the two-deep. Sean Edmundson had been on the No. 2 unit before Johnson moved Perry back over in the week leading up to the ISU game.

So will Perry be moving back to center once Brewer returns in the off-season? He's unsure what the future holds, but he's glad to be getting an opportunity to be on the field, regardless of the position.

"You work so hard all year so to get out on the field was a big relief," Perry said.

With Brewer expected back in the off-season and with centers Wyss and Moses both departing at season's end, it's a very real possibility that Perry will be returning to center next spring. Perry is fine with that now that he's learned some of the intricacies of the position.

While the IU coaching staff has targeted guards and tackles in the 6'6" and 6'7" range, it's a challenge to be that tall playing center, which Perry quickly learned after making the move.

"The toughest part was just having to snap and block," Perry said. "Everything inside happens so much faster because the guys are on you right away. At my height, I really have to play fast and shoot quick hands."

Perry felt he was picking up the position, and is ready to return if called upon to do so. Wherever he winds up, he says playing multiple positions has him better prepared for either spot.

"I don't know if I'll go back or not, it's up to the coaches," Perry said. "I'll play wherever. I think (playing center) been helpful with me out at tackle. Going inside it's a lot tougher, and when I moved back out I understand the bigger picture of things, and it makes tackle a little easier and a little slower."


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