Trooper Does Texas

Chris Perry, of Keeler, Texas, is an interesting character study for a sportswriter because he sounds like Shaquille O'Neal, he plays like Warren Sapp and he could bench press "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather, who is regarded as the world's greatest pound-for-pound boxer, about 40 times.

Rated the nation's No. 19 defensive tackle prospect by Scout.com, the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Perry has garnered over 30 offers including Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Colorado, Miami and Tennessee.

He committed to Miami over the summer but decided to reexamine his options by September. He has visited Oklahoma in November and Nebraska in December He canceled visits to Colorado and Arkansas. And he has January visits on tap to Miami and Tennessee.

The fact UT is in contention for Perry's services is a tribute to the program's reputation for developing D-Linemen. The fact the Vols are one of Chris Perry's two finalists is testimony to the recruiting genius of Coach Trooper Taylor. To put it in perspective consider that a month ago Tennessee wasn't even in the picture for the four-star prospect with five-star potential.

"I got a letter from Tennessee my sophomore year and I started kind of paying attention to them," Perry explained when asked to chronicle his courtship with the Vols. "Then they stopped sending stuff and I just left them alone. About a month ago Coach Trooper (Taylor) just called me out of nowhere at like 10:30 at night. We just started talking back and forth and then they offered me. I started paying attention to them and looking up on them. Now the next thing I know it's down to Miami and Tennessee."

During this get acquainted period Perry got to know and feel very comfortable with the man he calls "Coach Trooper."

"My relationship with Coach Trooper is cool," Perry said. "Him and coach Blake are like the two recruiting dudes I like best. Coach Trooper is just straight with it. He's real down to Earth. I think of him like an uncle or something."

Perry is scheduled to visit Tennessee on Jan. 12 and Miami the following weekend. However if he had his way he would have already been to Knoxville.

"I want to go before that," he said. "But they want me to be on campus when the students are there."

What does Perry like about Tennessee from what he does know?

"I like the way Tennessee puts people in the (NFL) League and the history they have there," he said. "When it comes to schools it's about their tradition and how they are. Tennessee is pretty good every year but they were real good this year. And they're known for putting a lot of people in the League. Along with Miami those two schools are known for putting D-Linemen into the League."

Perry has the type of size, talent and strength it takes to get ot the League. He helped lead Fossil Ridge High School to a 10-2 record and the state playoffs as a senior and was a unanimous All-District selection.

"I got a lot of double and triple teams this year," Perry said. "When I was down in the Okie (at nose tackle) I got a lot of triple teams."

The extra attention may have hurt Perry's statistical totals but it freed up his teammates and it didn't change his mind about wanting to play defense in college.

"I'm a defensive tackle," he said. "I was supposed to play some on the offensive line this year but I just played defense. That's where I want to be. Some coaches have talked to me about losing some weight and playing defensive end, but I'd rather stay strong and stay on defense."

That's another thing Perry likes about Tennessee — the opportunity to play on defense early.

"It looks like it's pretty good for me at Tennessee," he said. "I think if I went there I could get in and get a lot of P.T. my freshman year. I don't know about starting because I don't know who else they've got, but as far as playing I should be able to play."

It would be unusual for a true freshman to play on the D-line in the SEC, but Perry is an uncommon in terms of strength which is the key to early PT in the trenches.

"I bench 405," he said. "I squat 600 and I dead lift 600. The best 40 I ever ran was a 4.9. I think I could run a 4.9 consistently by the time I get to school."

With Coach Trooper on the case, that school might just be Tennessee.


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