Perry hopes for bigger role at receiver
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
COLUMBIA, Mo. — As Missouri blossomed into a national power in 2007, wide receiver Jared Perry's progress went in reverse.
This year, he's looking for a change of fortunes, hoping to play a bigger role for the sixth-ranked Tigers.
Looking for a fresh start, the junior has changed numbers, going back to the 4 he wore in high school after wearing 8 for the Tigers for the past two seasons.
"It was the best opportunity to start fresh because I messed up as a sophomore wearing No. 8, and I wanted to start as a new person as No. 4," Perry said.
Perry's collegiate career started off with a bang. After arriving in the summer of 2006 at 148 pounds, he packed on an additional 15 pounds and then earned honorable mention freshman All-American after catching 37 passes for 429 yards and three touchdowns.
But the numbers dropped dramatically in 2007, due in part to the emergence of Jeremy Maclin and other receivers. He had just 13 catches for 152 yards and no touchdowns.
That doesn't mean coaches have given up on him.
"I think when things didn't go well early in the season, he lost a bit of confidence," receivers coach Andy Hill said. "He wanted to get back to doing what he knew how to do."
Perry said he tried to stay positive, at least on the outside, and enjoy the team's 12-2 season and No. 4 national ranking.
"I didn't cope with it well, but the team was doing well so I couldn't get mad at that," Perry said. "I was trying to stay positive, but I knew someone's numbers would drop because of our depth at receiver."
Now, Perry is working hard to regain that 2006 form. He has bulked up to 180 pounds thanks to added work in the weight room.
"I think he decided that it was important to him, and he knew he was a good football player, so it was time to go out there and prove it," Hill said.
Perry said he also had to get his mind right.
"I came with a better mind-set and went hard and did what it takes," he said. "I talked to my family and they told me to keep my head up."
The work has paid off. Perry has played his way into the starting rotation at receiver. Quarterback Chase Daniel said he was more impressed with Perry than any other receiver.
And as the season draws near, Perry can draw on his experiences to help Missouri's multitude of young receivers.
"He's seen the top and he has seen the bottom, so it's good to talk to guys when you have seen both of those ends," Hill said.
* Tight end Chase Coffman was in full pads but wore a red pullover for most of practice. Coffman had been out of pads since Thursday, when he had three screws put into his broken pinky finger. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Coffman will be ready when the Tigers open the season.