As NFL scouting combine drills go, the vertical jump isn't a critical one for determining Joshua Perry's draft status. But the Ohio State linebacker will care as much about his performance in that drill as in any other this week in Indianapolis, for reasons that transcend his draft status.
As NFL scouting combine drills go, the vertical jump isn't a critical one for determining Joshua Perry's draft status.
But the Ohio State linebacker will care as much about his performance in that drill as in any other this week in Indianapolis, for reasons that transcend his draft status.
Perry is one of four players who will participate in a fundraiser to raise money for the Eagle Fund, which supports active-duty wounded or injured members of the U.S. military's special operations forces. Perry and Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell will compete to raise the most money in the vertical jump. Offensive linemen Ryan Kelly from Alabama and Shon Coleman from Auburn will compete in the bench press.
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For almost two months, Perry has been training at EXOS (formerly Athletes' Performance) in Pensacola, Florida. Special operations members have been doing their rehab there at the same time as the NFL prospects work out.
"It's very unique that we have an opportunity to train alongside these special-ops," Perry said. "It's very special."
He has become particularly close to a paratrooper named Eric, who's recovering from a foot injury.
"He's invited me to jump out of a plane," Perry said with a laugh. "I'm probably going to wait on that one and make sure I've got all my stuff together before I jump out of planes. But they really want to build a bond with us, and we want to build one with them. It's one of those lifelong relationships we're building."
Perry was highly active in community service while at Ohio State, so it was a no-brainer when he was asked to raise money for the Eagle Fund.
"It's a really cool project to help people who've helped us out in ways we don't even realize," he said.
Founded six years ago, the Eagle Fund has raised almost $2 million. Spokeswoman LeAnn Lincoln said the goal is to raise $25,000 with this year's combine-related events.
"The goal is to get as many people as possible to pledge for every inch we jump," said Perry, who expects to hit at least 36 inches. "Every little bit helps. Even if people only pledge a dollar per inch, that adds up."
Perry also will donate to the Eagle Fund. He didn't want to divulge an amount, other than to say he's in position to be more generous than he was as a college student.
Perry is in position for a nice payday in a few months. He's projected as a possible second-round pick. Perry was a captain last season for the Buckeyes and is regarded as a high-character prospect with little risk. The biggest question about him is his fluidity in changing directions at full speed.
"I'm hoping to turn some heads," Perry said of his combine workouts. "I've put in some pretty good work here, and I'm feeling confident."
Working alongside recovering special operations members has provided Perry with additional motivation. The first, he said, is pride in playing a sport that special-ops care so much about.
"They always talk about how big a football fans they are," Perry said, "and that no matter where they're at, they always try to catch the big games.
"The other thing it does is bring a lot of perspective. There are much more important things in the world than some of the things we immerse ourselves in. It makes things a little more real and helps you understand the situation we're in and how blessed we are as athletes."