Matt Cashore /

ND A to Z: Spencer Perry

Perry is an intriguing prospect due to his combination of size, length and athleticism as well as his position flexibility at both safety spots and outside linebacker.

Scout’s No. 29-ranked safety earned acclaim during his time at Auburn High School in Auburn, Ala., Newnan High School in Newnan, Ga., and The Heritage School in Newnan, Ga., prior to his transfer to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. A shoulder injury forced Perry to miss the majority of his senior season at IMG Academy.

The 6-foot-2, 204-pounder joined fellow early-entry freshmen Khalid Kareem, Daelin Hayes, Kevin Stepherson and Devin Studstill at Notre Dame for the start of the spring semester in January. Perry worked at safety during spring drills, finishing third on the depth chart at strong safety.

It likely would take a series of injuries for Perry to work his way into the starting lineup at strong safety this fall, although Drue Tranquill and Avery Sebastian – both listed ahead of Perry on the depth chart this spring – have a history of physical setbacks. It’s more likely that Perry earns a spot on the Irish special teams in ’16 with his size, length and athleticism contributing to his big-hitting ability.

Perry is a candidate for a red-shirt season, which not only would help him adapt to the position for which he was recruited – safety – but also could assist in his transition if the Irish coaching staff decides to convert him into an outside linebacker, a position his frame indicates he could play. He is, however, a likely special teams participant.

Since Notre Dame began accepting early-entry freshmen in 2006, there have been just two previous safety prospects to arrive ahead of schedule – Zeke Motta in 2009 and Chris Badger in 2010. Badger’s dimensions are unlike Perry’s. Motta was a four-star prospect – also from Georgia – at a comparable 6-foot-3, 210 pounds.

Although not as highly rated coming out of the prep ranks, Perry also draws to mind Harrison Smith in 2007, who was a safety that ultimately played some outside linebacker before finishing his collegiate career back at safety, where he flourished to become a first-round draft choice. (Note: At this stage of his development, Perry does not project to the level of play that Smith did coming out of high school in Tennessee.)

Perry was a three-star prospect and the No. 29 safety according to Scout as he was emerging from the IMG Academy. He appeared to struggle throughout the spring with picking up nuances of the safety position and playing instinctively, although there is much to like about his length and athleticism, which project to both safety and outside linebacker.

There’s no game competition by which to measure Perry’s effectiveness/progress this spring. He is at his best when he can use his size and physicality in the run game, and his length defending the pass. He is an intriguing nickel back prospect with the quickness to hang with slot receivers and the size to overpower them.

“Spencer is the type of player who imposes his will on offenses. He runs the alley well. He will make a great impact on our defense with his physicality and aggressiveness. With his size and strength, he can be a disruptive force for the Notre Dame defense for years to come.

“He has position versatility. He can play free safety, strong safety, he can line up as a nickel or at an outside linebacker position as an overhang defender over the No. 2 slot receiver. With his aggressiveness, we’ll even be able to blitz him off the edge and up the middle.”
-- Notre Dame DB coach Todd Lyght on Signing Day Top Stories