April 17, 2015 - Aaron Wilson
Alabama safety, NFL prospect Nick Perry has paid his dues
When Alabama safety Nick Perry arrived on campus, he was a blue-chip recruit. As talented as Perry is, though, he had to pay his dues and climb the Crimson Tide depth chart while working behind Mark Barron, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Vinny Sunseri and Robert Lester. This past season, as a fifth-year senior, Perry started opposite projected first-round safety Landon Collins and emerged as a key player who recorded 80 tackles to rank fourth overall on the nation's sixth-ranked defense. He also intercepted two passes. "It's hard playing at Alabama, having to compete with guys at safety like Mark Barron and that's just as safety and then there's Dee Milliner and Dre Kirkpatrick and Ha Ha and Landon, so I had to compete," Perry said in a telephone interview. "It's always a crowded defensive backfield. What makes players play so great at Alabama is you're not guaranteed to play each week, even so-called All-Americans. You've got to push each other. That's what makes Alabama great." Perry is a 6-foot-1, 211-pound from Prattville, Ala., who was in a versatile role for the Crimson Tide. He's played safety, nickel back and a hybrid linebacker position. "I bring versatility," Perry said. "Playing in Nick Saban's secondary, I had to play many roles. I played safety, a lot of nickel back, the Star position with inside receiver coverage and also had to play a hybrid linebacker in third-and-long and play in the box. I played all over the secondary. I bring a lot of versatility." Perry ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds at his Pro Day workout. The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder also bench pressed 225 pounds 11 times, had a 33-inch vertical leap and a 9-11 broad jump. Perry didn't do the three-cone drill and 60-yard shuttle because his hamstring tightened up during his second 40-yard dash. Perry overcame a partially torn labrum in his shoulder that required surgery after his junior season. Perry had a medical redshirt as a junior. He took graduate courses toward a master's degree this past season. "I had a pretty decent junior year before the shoulder," Perry said. "I'm just glad I'm healthy now." The Prattville native participated in the inaugural College Gridiron Showcase all-star game in January. Perry entered last season with 41 career tackles, two for losses, a sack and four pass breakups. Prior to the medical redshirt year, Perry played in every game in 2012 with four starts with 38 tackles, a fumble recovery, two pass breakups and a sack. "All I want is a chance," Perry said. "I just want to go to a team that wants me. I don't care where I go. I've been playing this game since I was eight years old. Once I get my foot in the door, I'm going to play balls to the wall and earn me a spot. I just want to be a contributor as a rookie. "I want to be a special-teams demon and play a role on the defense. Whether that's a starting role or being a backup in a sub package, I just want to make an impact and make my presence known. I don't think anybody comes in and just wants to sit on the bench. Special teams is the key to getting on the field." A four-star recruit and a SuperPrep All-American, Perry chose Alabama over Auburn, LSU, Vanderbilt, Stanford and Southern Mississippi. He had six interceptions as a senior. "I just love being part of the team, I love the physicality of football, how people can come together for one common goal," Perry said. "That's the best part, having great teammates playing for each other. "The excitement, the rush of playing football after you or your teammates make a big play, just everything about the atmosphere in general. That's the best thing about football." When Perry is done playing football, he's interested in pursuing a career in the NFL in personnel, like Crimson Tide legend and Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. "My dream job besides being a professional athlete is to be a GM one day," Perry said. "I do look up to Ozzie."
Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun