Nick Perry is ready to work.
The Alabama native, who wrapped up a stellar career with the Tide’s secondary last fall, did not get the call on draft weekend but he has yet to let it slow him down. In fact, it has only made him more determined. Perry signed as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens in May and has battled to prove himself on the defensive side of the ball, earning praise from the coaching staff as defensive coordinator Dean Pees called him “a typical Nick Saban prodigy.”
Here’s what you need to know about Perry and his battle for playing time:
1. Perry Is Fighting for a Spot on the Ravens 53-Man Roster
Nick Perry is fighting for his moment.
After missing the call on the combine and the NFL Draft, the former Alabama safety is finally earning his on-field chances, working to earn a spot on the Baltimore Ravens roster. Perry is playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder after being effectively snubbed by the NFL earlier this year. He said:
I have all the respect for (Baltimore defensive coordinator) Coach Pees, and for him to say that motivates me that I’m doing my job and that I’m making an impression. Now I just have to keep working and get better each and every day so I can make sure he’s not wrong.
Injuries have opened up a handful of metaphorical doors for Perry after Matt Elam tore his bicep before the start of the season and Terrence Brooks just recently came off the physically unable to perform list. Perry is currently listed as the third-string safety on the Ravens depth chart but has already turned heads after picking off backup quarterback Matt Schaub during training camp.
2. He Was a Standout in the Alabama Secondary
Following sporadic action during his freshman and sophomore years, Perry broke out as a junior at Alabama in 2012, playing in all 14 games and starting in four. He posted 38 tackles, including 18 solo tackles, as well as two pass breakups and a sack as a junior.
Then, problems. Perry played in just two games in 2013 before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for the remainder of the year.
Perry returned to the gridiron in 2014, finishing his senior season with 80 tackles and two interceptions. He said this past year was one of the most important he’s ever had in the sport he’s always loved:
This season was the most fun I ever had playing football. It was something special. It was a whole different story this year. The team work makes the dream work…it wasn’t just a game, it was a show.
3. Perry Signed With the Ravens as a Free Agent in May
Perry officially inked his name on the NFL line in May, signing with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent. The 6-foot-1 inch Perry joined former Tide teammates C.J. Mosely and Courtney Upshaw in Baltimore and former Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest was also signed as an undrafted free agent.
The road from Alabama to Baltimore might not actually be as long as one might assume. Former Alabama All-American Ozzie Newsome is the Ravens general manager and executive vice president.
Prior to signing with the Ravens, Perry reportedly had workouts with the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.
4. He Grew Up in Prattville, Alabama & Was a Top-Ranked Recruit
Perry grew up in Prattville, Alabama, just over 80 miles south of Tuscalosa, a place where football is a way of life. It’s like a real-life version of Friday Night Lights, a place where the entire town crowds into the football stadium every Friday night and cheers on the homegrown talent. In fact, Perry’s Twitter handle is “RealTimRiggins.”
In 2007, Perry joined the ranks of Prattville, playing under current UAB head coach Bill Clark. He played his first snap in the middle of the Lions playoff run, wrapping up his sophomore season with five in-game appearances and 17 tackles en route to a 6-A State Championship. His first offer letter came from Vanderbilt during his junior season. Perry explained the moment:
I barley had done anything yet and I was already being recruited. If I could get letters off of five games, imagine what I could get with a full season.
By the end of his high school career, Perry led the Lions to two state championships and was rated the No. 17 safety nationally by Scout.com and No. 27 by ESPNU. He registered 41 solo tackles and recovered two fumbles as a senior. It was always Alabama for Perry though. He immediately accepted the Tide offer after receiving interest from Auburn, LSU, Vanderbilt, Stanford and Southern Mississippi.
5. Perry Gained Leg Strength When He Was a Kid By Joining the Swim Team
Perry always wanted to play football. He loved it. He even loved the idea of football. But an elementary school kid isn’t quite ready to get out and start tackling people – at least that’s what Perry’s father told him.
So, Perry came up with a different plan. He wanted to be ready for football when tackling actually became an option. Perry opted, instead, to join a local swimming team, working on building his leg strength and fine-tuning his conditioning.
It worked. When Perry turned 11 he was finally able to join the Pop Warner football league in the area and he started tackling. He even joined an advanced group, going up against 13-year-olds, and winning.
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