Perry Aiming To Inspire Teammates

Before he got to high school, Joshua Perry impressed his teachers away from the football field enough to earn a coveted award. Now preparing for his senior season, the Ohio State commitment is hoping to use those abilities to help his team this fall.

When he was in eighth grade, Joshua Perry was named student of the year by his teachers for reasons that had nothing to do with athletics. However, the attributes the future Ohio State verbal commitment demonstrated away from the playing field have had plenty of impact on the gridiron.

Entering his senior season, the four-star outside linebacker said his even-keel approach has benefited his Lewis Center (Ohio) Olentangy squad.

"That's a necessary skill in football because I feel like in a team atmosphere, they all play off of what happens," he told "If we're not doing too well maybe the team gets down and they look at you. If you know what's going on and you're doing the right thing your teammates are going to follow along. It's a big chain reaction."

In addition to his exploits on the gridiron, Perry is a post player on the school's basketball team and an accomplished long jumper. As a sophomore, he was the state runner-up in the event with a leap of 22-10.0. The only athlete to best him was Devin Smith, a wide receiver from Massillon Washington who is a verbal member of OSU's class of 2011.

Perry is rated the No. 17 overall prospect from Ohio and the nation's No. 23 prospect at his position. Olentangy head coach Ed Terwilliger said Perry – who will not turn 17 until his senior season is nearly complete – remains a work in progress.

"You have to remember: Division I recruiting is not about what you are right now, it's what are you going to be?" the coach said. "Joshua is a great example of that because he grows every day. Obviously he was a lot better player this year as a junior than he was as a sophomore. He'll be a much, much better player for us as a senior but he's really going to be a good player when he's 21 or 22."

As a junior, Perry lined up at linebacker, wide receiver and running back. This season, Terwilliger said his on-field role will grow.

"I use him as many possible ways as I can and he will be really tired next year," he said. "I told him he'd better rest during basketball and track."

At OSU's urging, Perry will continue to play all three sports in high school.

Said Perry: "I find that really exciting. I enjoy that because back in middle school I would be running around playing a whole bunch of different things. Back in ninth grade I played quarterback a little bit so I could step in. I used to play safety back in ninth grade also so if they need me to step in there I can. Last year I played a little bit of defensive end. I'm willing to move around to whatever position."

However, he projects as an outside linebacker when he gets to OSU in the summer of 2012.

"He's 6-4, 228 pounds and can run," Terwilliger said. "He's aggressive and has good ball skills and we have no idea how big he's going to get."

Three years removed from his middle school honor, Perry remains the same type of student as he continues to grow on the football field.

"My (Spanish) teacher is having me work with another student because he was struggling and I was understanding some of the concepts," he said. "It makes me feel good at the end of the day because I know I have talent and can show somebody else that too."

Early in his prep career, Terwilliger sat Perry down and had him create a list of schools he would be interested in attending. Then, on the left side of the paper, the coach told him to list his dream destination.

Perry wrote down the Buckeyes.

"They're always a nationally ranked school, which obviously you'd like to play for," he said. "Then the fact that if you go there and be a linebacker, it's a really good college for that. And then (head coach Jim) Tressel does a great job developing players but also people off the field. Academically, Ohio State is a good school. I like the atmosphere there too."

Terwilliger said he showed Perry's sophomore film to scouts without telling them he was so young.

"There were guys who were ready to offer him," the coach said. "If he would've been a senior, he would've been offered."

The Buckeyes were already involved. Terwilliger said he and Perry were at a function during which the youngster had the chance to speak with then-OSU wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell. That, coupled with a strong performance at an OSU camp following Perry's sophomore season helped sell the program on his talents.

After committing to the Buckeyes during the summer before his junior season, Perry said he felt a target on his back as he went through the season both on and off the field.

It is the kind of pressure Perry said he welcomes.

"I did feel more of a bulls-eye (last season) but that's also the way I like to play it," he said. "I always play up to the competition so I like a challenge. It was a fun season."

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