Perry More Than A Football Player

Perhaps one of the most anticipated members of Ohio State's 2012 class is linebacker Joshua Perry, who committed to the Buckeyes before ever playing a snap of his junior season. Now just months away from campus, Perry is finishing his high school career on a positive both on and off the field.

Joshua Perry's reputation precedes him, but the information gathered by college coaches interested in the linebacker often wasn't enough to ease the surprise of meeting him face to face for the first time.

"Sometimes when I am meeting coaches for the first time in person they say they have heard good things about me," said the immensely well-spoken Perry. "But then they tell me they didn't really believe everything they heard about me until they got to talk to me."

It was only a matter of time before the 6-4, 235-pound linebacker became one of the top prospects in the 2012 class, but the proximity of Olentangy High School – located just north of Ohio State – gave former Buckeyes wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell the advantage of really getting to know Perry long before his reputation became widespread knowledge.

His reputation would have traveled fast, as Perry's impeccable athleticism is matched by a 3.8 grade-point average, a 26 ACT score and a reputation for being a positive figure in the community.

"He wasn't a tough sell," Olentangy head coach Ed Terwilliger said.

And Ohio State was buying. The program offered the four-star prospect before he ever played a down of football in his junior season after seeing his performance in one of its summer camps.

Top prospects in the 2012 class were also in attendance at that June 2010 camp, but Perry was the only underclassman who left with a scholarship offer in what was quite a testament to the athlete's athleticism and virtually unlimited upside.

The combination of grades, character and potential was enough for the Buckeyes to take an early leap of faith on Perry, who pledged to the program shortly after and became the first verbal commitment in the 2012 class.

"I think I helped other kids see that committing early is not always a bad thing," said Perry, who referred to Ohio State as his dream school. "I know a lot of guys like to hold out on their offers, but if you see something you like you might as well jump on it because it is your future and you don't want to play around with that. If it feels right, it is probably right."

Ohio State's coaches might have thought Perry was too good to be true as the senior puts an emphasis on his grades before athletics yet is a three-sport star who also turns heads as a basketball player and a track star.

Perry's personal best on the long jump is 23 feet, and he also competes for the Braves as a high jumper, sprinter and hurdler. On the basketball court, he is nearly impossible to score on or out-rebound.

"I have never seen him do this, but I wouldn't be surprised if he went into a gym with a bunch of the top basketball prospects in the Midwest and won a dunk contest right now," recruiting analyst Bill Greene said. "He is just a special athlete, and that's why Ohio State took a shot on him by offering him when he was very young and new to the game of football."

The versatility transfers onto the football field, too, as Terwilliger has used Perry just about everywhere – linebacker, defensive end, running back, offensive line and wide receiver. Wary about bringing him up to varsity as a freshman – though Perry's athleticism assuaged the coach's thinking about that decision – Terwilliger had him playing quarterback on the freshman team in his first year in high school.

"We wanted him to learn how to play the game of football on his feet," Terwilliger explained. "Most of the time people take those big kids and put them somewhere where they're in a stance. What I wanted to do with him as a freshman, even though I didn't know where he'd end up, was put him on his feet and let him play quarterback and learn the game so when it came time to know where he was going to be he would have a better understanding of it. He is a very smart kid and I think it really helped."

Perry is coming into his own in his senior season. During Olentangy's 42-7 win over Dublin (Ohio) Jerome on Oct. 7, Perry scored four touchdowns in three different ways. He rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns, caught a 64-yard touchdown reception and returned an interception 22 yards for another score.

"One of the things I can say is he has gotten better every year, but he is going to be really good by the time he is 22," Terwilliger said. "I am really curious to see where he is going to be because he is only 17. He has never been on a year-round strength program where he just plays football because of other sports and academics and things. I can only imagine how much he'll develop once he's at Ohio State."

Athletics has been a major portion of Perry's life, but it hasn't been the whole thing. Academics is where he has made another mark, and he was recently informed by his guidance counselor that he'll be inducted into his high school's hall of fame, something his older brother, Wesley, did before him.

"I have always wanted to be up there with him because he is kind of my role model," Perry said of his older brother, who is currently at Ohio State studying jazz and music education. "I am just really happy to be up there and have my picture on the wall. It means a lot to me."

Also honoring his younger brother, Jahred, who has autism, Perry takes time away from his busy football and academic schedule to mentor another Olentangy student who has autism and is making the transition to high school.

"At the end of the day, you feel good as a person," said Perry of his mentoring. "He needs a little more guidance than a lot of other people do and making the adjustment might be different for him, but just to sit down and be able to talk to somebody is a good situation to be in.

"I know when I was a freshman I was scared coming into high school and I didn't know what to expect either. I see him in the hallway and he always has a smile on his face, so it is cool to see that."

Perry will be graduating from high school early and enrolling at Ohio State in January to begin his pursuit of a degree that will put him in the position to be qualified for a future job in real estate and/or investments.

But the pursuit of a successful football career could lead to a future in the NFL, which Perry said would be his ultimate dream. True to form, Perry vowed that even if he was in a situation to leave school early in favor of a professional football career, he'd return to Ohio State and complete his education.

"I am going to end up with a degree," Perry said. "I think that's very important. Whatever you can do to separate yourself from somebody else is important. It is also about pushing others in the classroom, too. It is about getting your buddies to rally around and … make sure our futures are stronger."

Perry will immediately be put into an intensive strength and conditioning program when he gets onto the OSU campus, which all but certainly will continue to change his still-growing body. As he continues to develop, the Ohio State coaching staff is sure they could have something special on the field in the future.

Aiming his goals high isn't reserved for academics, as Perry envisions he'll make an instant impact on the program on the field, too. "At the end of my time at Ohio State, I'd like to be All-Big Ten or All-American because those are high honors and I'd like to make Academic All-Big Ten and Academic All-American if possible," he said.

"I want to improve on everything I need to work on. We want to win national championships and Big Ten championships, so I will be about all those things – getting the team together doing things right and working hard on the field."

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