"It was one of those things where he stepped on someone's foot, and it twisted," SJSU Head Coach Dick Tomey said at the time.
Now a senior, the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Perry has nearly completed the journey back. "I'd say he's about 90 – 95-percent back," SJSU running backs coach Charles Nash told Inside Sparta after practice on Sunday. "He's confident, he's running well, he's cutting inside and not favoring it, which is what we look for after a knee injury like that."
Needless to say, Perry is looking forward to playing again. "I'm like a kid in a candy story," he said. "I have a position to fight for but I'm having a good time just playing football."
|San Jose State senior running back Patrick Perry returns to full contact this spring after missing the past two season with a knee injury|
Perry almost made it back last season but wasn't quite ready to go, and it was decided to hold him out of the 2008 season. "I participated a little bit in summer practice and it just didn't feel comfortable," he said. "It's not that I couldn't run on it, it's that I didn't feel comfortable running on it so I had to continue my retraining. The one thing I got out of that mentally is that I just put God first and work real hard."
Nash said it's still too early to know where Perry will fit in on the depth chart, but he has no doubt that Patrick will see the field this fall. "Oh he'll play," he said. "He'll definitely have a role. He's a very good runner and a very good blocker, and he can catch the ball in the backfield. He's a really physical player, tough, a real physical blocker so he brings that."
The Spartans appear to be stacked at the running back position. That is a refreshing change after finishing ranked 115 in rushing offense out of 119 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly D-1A). Competing with Perry for playing time is 5-foot-9, 210-pound junior Lamon "Mojo" Muldrow, 5-foot-9, 205-pound senior Chris Reese, and 5-foot-10, 190-pound sophomore Brandon Rutley. "We're strong in the backfield and everyone is working hard," Perry said. "Everyone is putting in their bid for the starting spot."
Last season ended on a sour note with San Jose State dropping its last three games and missing out on a bowl bid. Like his injury, Perry said the team is putting the pain of that finish behind them and looking towards the upcoming season. He said this year's team is coming together as a group more so than any squad since he's been at SJSU.
"We've been working hard together and getting in shape," he said. "In the weight room we're gelling more than I've ever seen in the past. We have a long way to go but I think we're more of a team now then we've been in the past. That's my view and it comes from the coaches working us hard, getting us in good shape and working as a team."
While football and school would seem to take up most of his time, Perry does make room for a regular job. "I work for the County of Santa Clara in an educational outreach program where we take kids that are struggling in reading and writing," he said. "I have a class of 27 or 28 kids and every day after school I mentor and help them with their reading and with their homework."
Having done an internship with the program, Perry said he liked it so much that he took the job. He said it keeps him on his toes. "I have fun doing it," he said. "I don't view it as a job. The kids are very entertaining and they remind me of myself when I was a kid."
Perry said that he will be in the weight room every day between spring and fall camp. His goal is to get his team back to another Bowl. "It was a lot of fun," he said about the New Mexico Bowl, where the Spartans defeated New Mexico 20-12. "It was great to go and play for Coach Tomey. I want to go to another one."
While Perry hasn't officially been granted an extra year of eligibility, the coaching staff has stated that they are confident that such an injury will warrant a sixth year for Patrick.
Don Hoekwater is the Publisher of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org