Every recruiting cycle numerous players garner attention late. Whether it be injuries, lack of national exposure or a combination of both, some players don’t get much buzz until closer to National Signing Day.
Craig Clayton, Perry’s head coach at Hillsboro High School in Nashville, hasn’t spoken to Perry much about the Vols offer but sees it as a big one for him nevertheless.
“He had knee surgery in February or I think he’d have a bunch (of offers) by now — Kentucky is the only other SEC school that’s offered him,” Clayton told InsideTennessee. “I’m sure it’s big for him. He’s a Tennessee native of course, he’s lived here his whole life. So, I’m sure getting an offer from them is big for him.”
Since being sidelined with a knee injury during his junior season, Perry has had little opportunity to prove his abilities. Clayton believes the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder could turn a lot of heads this fall.
“As soon as he starts playing and (schools) see him run again at 100-percent — Ohio State’s very interested, a number of schools are,” Clayton said. “He also has an offer in baseball from Mississippi State. He’s a really highly ranked baseball player as well … so he’ll have his choice of what he wants to do, but I think he wants to try to play football and baseball in college.”
Clayton says Perry mostly plays on the offensive side of the ball. However, it’s been clear so far that he possesses a lot of potential as a defender as well.
“For us he plays running back and receiver," Clayton said. "I know some of the other colleges want (to see him) at defensive back. I think he’d prefer to play offense, but I think he’d play wherever the college wanted him to. You know, I think he could be a ‘shutdown’ corner. He’s very athletic, has great ball skills … I think there’s just a lot of positions he could play.”
Clayton says Perry “is probably, in the long run, more valuable as far as being able to take over a game” than his teammate, fellow Vols target and highly touted defensive end Kyle Phillips.
Since Tennessee extended an offer to Perry, many Vols fans have probably wondered if the Big Orange may have an edge for Phillips if his teammate committed. According to Clayton, it could help.
“I know they’re good friends and have a lot of respect for each other,” the Hillsboro coach told IT. “So, I’d have to say it wouldn’t hurt. I can’t guarantee anything, but it for sure wouldn’t hurt anything.”
Where Perry ends up at this point is unknown. Despite receiving his first truly top tier offer, the mid-state product has held off any declaration. Whether it’s Rocky Top or elsewhere, Clayton holds firm in his belief that Perry’s future is bright.
“I think he has the ability to be a difference-maker at the next level. So, I think he can be very good. Really good.”