Peria Jerry, one of the most coveted signees from 2004, is a year late in realizing his dream of playing college football, but in the long run he feels the wait has been worth it.
Jerry ended up having to go to Hargrave Military Academy last year and consequently had to resign with the Rebels last February.
"Hargrave was a great learning experience for me," said the polite, almost shy, Jerry. "I learned discipline and got to play a pretty good level of football while doing so.
"We played a 4-3 scheme similar to Ole Miss' scheme and that will help me this fall. Also, I played against some good young offensive linemen who will be very good in D1 ball. The level of play is similar to junior college, maybe even a little better, I believe. So that will help me."
Now that Jerry is at Ole Miss, with an extra year of seasoning and maturation under his belt, but with five years to play four in eligibility, he feels more prepared for the challenges that face him.
"I don't think I'm in awe of the situation now. I might have been last summer," he smiles. "And I think, having to go the long way, I'm also more excited. It's really hard to explain how I feel.
"There's an excitement about stepping up to a new level, but I know it's going to be a whole lot different. I know the pace and intensity of practices and games is going to be upped a lot, but at the same time I feel I'm prepared."
Peria, who is considered one of the best players to come out of South Panola in its storied history, says he had a "good" summer preparing for the dog days of August practice to begin.
"Summer workouts are voluntary, but I came anyway. I know what kind of shape I have to be in to be able to show the coaches what I can do in August practice," he explained. "When summer began, I was a little heavy, but I lost down to 290. I can play at 290, but I'd rather be 280-285. I'm sure the summer heat will peel those last 5-10 pounds off of me."
Jerry feels he is ready to compete and make an impact, but he's making no rash predictions about his immediate future.
"You just have to compete on every snap and in every drill. That's the biggest thing. In my mind, I'm ready to get after it. I know I have to learn the scheme and the techniques and the speed of the game on this level, but that will all come with effort," Jerry noted.
He found out in the summer workouts that he belongs with the varsity.
"I think my strength level is right there with the older guys on the team. I also feel my movement is on that level," he closed. "The other DTs have been very good to me. They are great guys who have pushed me pretty hard to this point. They are good leaders, but I realize I will have to develop through my own efforts.
"I'm ready to get started and show I belong. In my mind, I do, but you have to prove it on the field."
Jerry hyped about D-1 experience
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