IMG Academy Safety has College Football on a String

By EFN Staff
Published: 02/25/2015

What do you do when you have college football recruiters on a string? If you’re Spencer Perry you’re humble and thankful for the blessings bestowed.

The former Auburn High School (Alabama) safety, now with IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, is hitting that stride underclassmen reach after National Signing Day when offers start to roll in left and right. While interviewing the Class of 2016 star, two offers came in, Memphis and Vanderbilt. Another key thing took place, one very high profile college coach called. One would understand the prized safety taking the call but in his respectful way continued the interview.

Perry’s physical attributes scream All-American potential. At 6’3”, 202 pounds, he head hunts choosing to inflict pain on any ball carrier, running back, wide receiver, or otherwise. But Perry is not just big, he’s fast too running his 40-yard dash in the high 4.4 range.

What is even more impressive about Perry other than the fact that he hits like a linebacker but covers ground like a well seasoned safety is how he carries himself. He’s thoughtful, focused, determined, intelligent, and it does not hurt to mention it again, humble.

With offers coming in from programs like Auburn, Michigan, Mississippi State, Florida, Southern Miss, and Albany while schools like Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Cincinnati are showing heavy interest some high school players might have the tendency to sit back thinking they have made it. That mentality is not the life path for Perry.

In an Elite Sports Network interview Spencer sat down to discuss transferring from Auburn High School to IMG Academy, recruiting, offseason workouts, and getting ready for his senior season.

Spencer, last year you were suiting up for Auburn High School now you’re in Bradenton with a whole new team, in a new city, and a new state. What has the transition been like for you?

“I miss my teammates, my family, and simple things that kids my age have. I felt I had to make a sacrifice to be the player and student I wanted to be. That’s why I did this.”

What are your early impressions of IMG Academy?

IMG Academy is more like a college in a sense. Going to school here will make an easier transition from high school to college for me. It’s a boarding school. The workouts and all the school work are on a college level. We have NFL and college guys training us daily. The coaches are some of the best in the country as well.”

IMG’s head coach from last year, Chris Weinke, left to become the quarterbacks coach for the St. Louis Rams recently. What are your thoughts on Weinke leaving the team as you were coming into the program?

“He’s going to the NFL – everyone wants to go the highest level. I think it’s great. I’m very happy for him.”

After going through some workouts, being in the weight room, and participating in some offseason drills, what is your take on the talent level at IMG Academy?

“Everyday we have workouts from 1:30 3:30 and then we go out and do football work at four o’clock. We have the best players in the country. All the guys are amazing. At cornerback, running back, quarterback, along the offensive line, on the defensive line, at wide receiver, everyone here can play the game. It’s great to be around all my teammates.”

Going from one level of overall talent to a different level of talent, how have the early workout sessions tested or challenged you to improve?

“One thing I really wanted to do, I really wanted to challenge myself to be the best I can possibly be. This move for me has done that. In practices I go against a receiver that’s running a 4.4 (forty-yard dash), that pushes me to be better. As a team we push each other to get better.”

What are some of the offseason workouts you are doing to prepare for your senior season?

“We do something different everyday. We do a lot of leg training working different muscles, our hip flexors, quick twitch muscles. We do a lot of workouts to increase our athleticism. We do a lot of agility drills so come spring ball we are ready to go.”

What are your strengths on the field?

“My strengths on the field at safety are my tackling abilities, I cover well, and I see plays before they happen. I still need to work on every aspect of the game. I want to improve on everything. I have strengths but I want to perfect them. I want to be the best player I can possibly be.”

You have a ton of athletic ability, will the coaches at IMG place you in another position or have you take some snaps at wide receiver next season? Do you think the coaches will expand your role in some way?

“I’m just a safety. I try to lead by example. I’m not a big talker. I’m not going to tell everyone what to do. I’m going to do my job and work hard, that’s what I do.”

You’re now in the middle of a recruiting frenzy with coaches and schools coming at you left and right. What is it like to have all the offers rolling in and college coaches calling you forging relationships?

“I never really believed it would happen for me like this. It’s crazy.”

When you speak with the different coaches what are they telling you they like about your game?

“First, everyone tells me they like my size. The second thing they tell me they like is that I am light on my feet and they like that I’m not afraid to lay my hat in there. They like that I’m a hard worker and dependable. That’s one thing I make sure that I am.”

With all of these schools coming at you, do you have any early favorites?

“No favorites right now. I really have not had time to take too many visits. I’m just lucky that scholarships are coming in. I’m considering every school. Its all about the best fit for me.”

When you pick a school what will influence your final decision?

“Education is number one, campus feel, the best fit for me, and if I fit the program athletically.”

What college camps did you go to last summer?

Auburn and Georgia State.”

Do you plan to go to any college camps this summer?

“No, probably not.”

You mentioned you have not had the chance to visit too many campuses, which campuses have you unofficially visited?

“I’ve been to North Carolina, Auburn, Alabama, and Mississippi State.”

I understand you’ll be heading north to Tallahassee this weekend for Florida State’s Junior Day. Are you excited about visiting the FSU campus?

“I’m really excited about visiting FSU – so excited. I have a couple of friends that are committed to FSU. I’m excited to be on campus, getting a chance to meet the coaches, and hopefully have a chance to be a Nole.”

When watching college football games last year, were there any collegiate players you enjoyed watching play the game?

“Last year I liked watching Landon Collins (Alabama). I loved how he played. He’s a great safety. I also like watching Cody Prewitt from Ole Miss, Jalen Ramsey from FSU, and Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves. Those guys are the players I’d watch carefully, take their strengths and try to put it in my game.”

Who has made the biggest impact on your football career?

“From middle school to high school all the coaches that have helped me have made an impact but my dad (Melvin) has had the biggest impact. He is always helping me improve and get better. He introduced me to the weight room. By eighth grade I fell in love with the weight room and the process of being a good player. He didn’t have to push me to go, I wanted to go. I’m not going to stop working hard.”

What is your favorite part of playing football?

“I love everything about football. I like being around my teammates. Going out there during games and showcasing how hard we’ve worked as team for each game. I really like the physical aspect of the game.”

A lot of teenagers are characters. The difference with Spencer Perry is he shows a lot of character. No matter the age, coming in contact with determined individuals willing to sacrifice time, happiness, and normal everyday comforts with the goal to achieve personal dreams is inspiring. Again, this is Spencer Perry.

One does not need a crystal ball or a Psychic hotline number to come to the conclusion that Perry has a bright future ahead of him. Where one might need help from another realm is figuring out where Perry will play his college ball. Will he return to his home state to play for one of two powerhouse programs? Or will he stay in Florida opting to go a different route in his newly adopted state? Maybe a top program will develop that needed relationship with talented safety taking him away from programs already loaded with top tier talent?

As is often the case more times than not, one has to question college football recruiters as a whole. How can a stud player like Perry only have seven offers at this point in the game? What is there to gain by waiting several months before jumping on the bandwagon for a difference maker that could contribute to any college football program in the nation as a freshman? What is the shame in at least trying? For a top prospect like Perry, this would not be an ego feed landing another offer but an opportunity for a college to land a three to four year anchor in their secondary.

Photo credit:; Spencer Perry