Perry Stepping into Leadership Role for Michigan Receivers

Perry Stepping into Leadership Role for Michigan Receivers

Football

Perry Stepping into Leadership Role for Michigan Receivers

ANN ARBOR, Mich — It’s Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry’s last chance — his last go-round in a winged helmet. He’s planning on doing everything he can to make it count.

But that doesn’t necessarily translate to the stats and numbers he hopes to accumulate on the field.

Perry was part of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh’s first class in 2015, and he instantly got onto the field, playing in Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching debut at Utah.

Once a young guy, surrounded by veterans at the receiver position, Perry is now the veteran, the one setting the example.

It’s an odd place to be, considering the talent that, once again, surrounds him. In 2017, Michigan brought in one of its best-ever wide receiver classes on paper, featuring a five-star and three four-stars. The expectations were immediately that those players would see the field early and often.

And three of the four did — yet, it was Perry, from the slot position no less, who led the team in receiving yards a year ago.

Now that he’s the elder statesman in the wide receiver group, Perry is making sure that his voice is heard, and that he’s being a leader and a mentor to the younger ilk, like the players that came before him.

“I realized I’m the older guy in the room,” Perry said. “I’ve put it upon myself – if I’m not going to be vocal, then who’s going to be vocal? Jehu was vocal with me (and) he’s doing pretty well now, so I’m just gonna do what he set – follow the trend.”

Being a leader requires not only a dedication to doing things right, but also in being more vocal. Sometimes it means taking someone directly under your proverbial wing.

Despite the expectations that many had for the fearsome foursome of the 2017 class, the growing pains were evident. The wide receiver position is a difficult one to get fully acclimated to at the college level compared to high school.

Not only is there a learning curve, but Perry says there’s several other factors at play.

Being a senior, Perry is making sure that he gives back, making sure his voice is heard. Because he’s not that far removed from being a first-year player about to be thrust into the spotlight on national television. And there’s so much required of receivers that goes beyond simply running and catching.

“I get a first-hand of it this camp as well, because Ronnie Bell, the receiver who came in from Kansas City, freshman – I’m rooming with him, and he’s been asking me questions on questions in the hotel at night,” Perry said. “I’ve been quizzing him and drilling him and try to help him. Because that was me four years ago. So, I know the pain. But he’s picked it up really well.

“As a freshman coming in, you’ve got so many distractions. New place, you don’t know where you’re going. He just finished school, like summer school. He had a couple papers – it’s a lot of things to juggle especially when you’re coming in, and you’ve got this playbook and you’ve got the coaches. It’s a lot.”

Ultimately — whether he’s cognizant of it or not — Perry is just trying to continue the tradition.

It may have been awhile since the Braylon Edwards’ of the world strapped on a winged helmet, and with a tough year offensively a year ago, the world with a dominant Michigan receiving corps seems like centuries in the past.

But, there have been very good players to come through this program in recent years, including two now-NFL players in Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh.

When Perry came to Ann Arbor as a wide-eyed freshman from Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice, it was those players who set the standard for him. Before they came to prominence, it was players like Roy Roundtree, who’s back as a graduate assistant, who imparted that knowledge.

It’s a tradition that just continues. And Perry wants to make sure that he doesn’t let those legends inscribed in the annals of Michigan football down.

“I just take it upon myself every day to set a good example for these guys,” Perry said. “There’s times where I could rest my head and fall asleep in meetings, but I stay awake, stay alert. Just knowing my duty as well – on the field, I help guys get lined up. Just knowing the plays.

“When I was here as a freshman, Darboh and Chesson did that to me. When I’m gone, I want these guys to be set. (I’m) setting the standard. So those guys can lead the guys coming in after. Setting the trend.”

Perry’s final season is set to kick off on September 1 in South Bend, as Michigan travels to Notre Dame for a 7:30PM kickoff.

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