Name: Joshua Perry
College: Ohio State
NFL games played: 15
Games played for the Chargers: 15
Fun fact: Perry’s best ever Long Jump is 7.01m - that would only have been .84m off qualifying for the Men’s Long Jump final at Rio 2016 and would have been .07m off medaling in the Women’s Long Jump. He’s talented.
If you’ve been following this series closely, you’d have probably sensed a trend with the roster that Tom Telesco has put together for this Chargers team. Telesco has a real soft spot for intelligent, high character football players, and Joshua Perry might be the embodiment of that.
Perry showed that he was more than just an athlete throughout school, culminating in graduating High School with a 3.8 GPA and scoring a 26 on the ACT. That’s a well above average score for Americans - or, to put it another way, would put him in at least the top 95% over here in Britain.
Not only was Perry putting in the work in the classroom, but he was downright dominant on the football field, being ranked the #6 player in all of Ohio and the #9 OLB in the entire country. It wasn’t a surprise that Ohio State was interested in the LB, and it wasn’t a surprise that Perry committed to the Buckeyes instantly, considering they were one of the best programs in the country and just 30 minutes from where he grew up.
He wasn’t redshirted as a True Freshman but had his playing time restricted to Special Teams, for the most part, recording just five tackles all year. That’d change in his Sophomore Year as he’d play in 13 games, starting 10 at the SAM LB spot and recording 64 tackles. He’d nearly double that the following year as he moved to WILL LB, with his 124 tackles leading the entire Ohio State team - a team that would go on to win the National Championship with Cardale Jones at QB and Perry teaming up with Joey Bosa on defense.
If you were just to look at Joshua Perry’s on the field performance in college in an isolated bubble, he’d possibly have been a 1st Round pick. He’d definitely have gone before Day 3. He was a Team Co-Captain, 2015 First Team All-Big 10 Linebacker and an honorable mention as an All-American. Production is everything NFL teams look at when projecting a player’s suitability at the next level, however, and there were real concerns about Perry’s ability to stay on the field for all three downs. Lance Zierlein pondered that “His best fit may be as a physical, 3-4 inside linebacker who has to leave the field on passing downs.” Perry is a thumper at 6’4, 268 LBs, but he fell all the way to the fourth round because of said coverage concerns. If you can’t play against the pass, there’s not a lot of use for you in the modern NFL.
The Chargers would draft fellow LB Jatavis Brown a round later, but Brown climbed above Perry on the depth chart in Training Camp and never once looked like relinquishing that spot. Just like in his first year at college, Perry had to settle for mostly ST snaps in his first year as a Charger, playing on just 114 defensive snaps, and only actually got on the field for a defensive snap in 8/16 games. He did see 332 snaps on Special Teams - the most for any Chargers player not named Darrell Stuckey - and if the Chargers do part ways with Stuckey, Perry could find himself becoming the new leader of that ST unit.
In this 4-3 defense, I agree with Jamie Hoyle in that Perry projects best as the backup to Denzel Perryman as the MIKE LB. He’s a leader and a force against the run, which is exactly what the MIKE role calls for. I don’t think he’s ready yet and wouldn’t expect him to seriously challenge Perryman for game time this year, but I would expect him to work slowly into the rotation, be used in obvious running situations, and in the goal line package. 150-200 snaps is probably a fair (if conservative) estimate for Perry this year.
Off the field, Perry is the definition of a role model. He was a finalist for both the Senior CLASS Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy (isn't random capitalization fun?), awards given for character and having a positive impact on a community. Those traits define Josh Perry.
In May 2015, Perry spent a week in Costa Rica on behalf of ‘Soles4Souls’, a charity that distributes shoes and clothes to those in need. In 2014, Perry heard about a young Ohio State fan battling cancer. He rounded up his teammates and got them to send video clips of support to the boy and his family. He’d also them over for dinner.
His HC Urban Meyer said he’d hire Perry “in a second” if he wanted to get into coaching. Teammate Tyvis Powell said that he wouldn’t be shocked if Perry “was a CEO of a company in five years.” When the Athletic Director of Ohio State was asked if he would hire Perry, he responded: “What time is it, 4:14? I’d hire him at 4:15. That guy is a stud.”
Perry gave a speech at the Big 10 Football Luncheon and summed up his philosophy in life with “we don’t just play ball. We don’t just do what we do as athletes. We have a voice, and we can use that voice for good.”
Joshua Perry is an incredible person, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had his fair share of struggles in life. Perry’s younger brother Jahred suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. He feels uncomfortable around large crowds, and so Jahred has never seen Joshua play a down of football in person.
While the family was learning how best to deal with the diagnosis and find Jahred the right treatment, Josh says that he was also learning from Jahred. “Jahred’s taught me a ton; how to face challenges, always keeping your head up and never taking no for an answer. People have told him ‘No, you can’t do that,’ or ‘No, you won’t be able to do that.’ And he’s said, ‘I’m going to do what I need to do.’ That’s something that I take from him.”
Josh looked out for his younger brother in school, realizing that the other children may not understand why Jahred would behave a certain way. Jahred says that “whenever I would have problems with people bothering me he [Josh] would have a nice conversation with them and they would quit.”
Autism is something that’s still misunderstood by a lot of people, but Joshua Perry is working tirelessly to change that. He’s a big supporter of Autism Speaks and wore customized Autism Speaks cleats when the NFL allowed players to wear cleats that supported a charitable cause.
With the help of Josh, Jahred was able to work through his disability, and went from a “socially awkward child” into the Student Manager of the Ohio State Lacrosse team, although he has since transferred to a college closer to his home. Josh even calls him the ‘Mayor,’ due to Jahred’s outgoing nature and the fact that he seemingly knows and interacts with everybody in sight.
The Mayor and the NFL player? That’s a pretty good team right there.