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
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?
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
“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
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
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
“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
“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,
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
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: bleacherreport.com; Spencer Perry