Golden Tickets: Joshua Perry

A year ago, Joshua Perry spent his first season as a starter playing opposite Ryan Shazier. Now the junior linebacker will attempt to replace the All-American as he has used momentum from the end of last season to solidify his starting status on the Buckeyes' defense.

After Ohio State's April 12 spring game, head coach Urban Meyer pointed to seven players as having spots sewn up on his defense as the team heads into summer workouts. Those seven players earned what we're calling Golden Tickets to start on a defense that has its sights set on returning the Buckeye stop troops to Silver Bullet status. We're profiling each of those seven players as well as taking a look at the remaining position battles in a series this week.

Joshua Perry
Position: Outside Linebacker
Height: 6-4
Weight: 250
Hometown/HS:Galena, Ohio
Previous Stats: Perry is the Buckeyes' top returning tackler and was fourth on the team a season ago with 54 stops to his credit. In his first season as a starter, the former four-star prospect also recorded one sack and defended two passes in his sophomore campaign.

What They're Saying: After spending last season playing Sam linebacker, Perry has moved the Will linebacker position, where he'll be faced with the task of replacing All-American linebacker Ryan Shazier in Ohio State's new quarters coverage defense.

"It's a little bit new," Perry admitted. "We're downhill, we're reacting in the pass game and trying to get hands on guys. We're really aggressive. I love it."

Perry seemingly thrived in his new role in the spring, with Urban Meyer referring to the Olentangy product as one of the players on the team who made the largest strides this offseason.

"He's really, he's without question one of our top five most improved players," Meyer said of Perry. "Demeanor's always been there, work ethic's been there and the toughness element is something that's really improved. Love of the game and he's a wonderful guy to coach."

As opposed to the Sam position, which takes on more responsibilities in coverage, Perry's new job will call for him to take on more of a "see ball, get ball" mentality. The difference between what's required from a Will and what's asked of from a Sam was evident in Shazier's stat line, with the potential first round picking netting 143 tackles in 2013.

Asked if he's capable of replicating the eye-popping numbers that Shazier did a year ago, Perry was optimistic.

"Hopefully," Perry said. "But it's not about individual stats necessarily. It's about what I can do for the team. But if that's how it is, then that's how it is."

Perry's emergence this spring was foreshadowed by his sophomore finale, which saw the then-sophomore record 10 tackles -- seven of which were solo -- and a sack in the Buckeyes' Orange Bowl loss to Clemson. That momentum carried into the spring and Perry appears primed to be one of the leaders on a revamped edition of the Silver Bullets.

"I had that comfort level toward the end of the year to be able to play a little bit faster and know my assignment and just go," he said. "Now I'm trying to get that comfort level to where I can just see the play and react. I want to be able to do everything fast with reckless abandonment.

"When it clicks, it's not necessarily as important as keeping the momentum going."

If Perry can carry that into the fall, it should go a long way toward him tapping into his potential, which he feels is limitless.

"The sky's the limit I think for me," Perry said. "Last year, I did alright. I got a little bit of momentum heading into the end of the year. I think that's carried over. But I can't stop right now."

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