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Hawg Futures: Transfer lines up to play now
BY RICK FIRES -ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
This is the 14th in a series profiling Arkansas football signees, who report Aug. 10.

University of Arkansas football signee Gene Perry loves numbers, especially his own.

That's why the junior transfer from East Mississippi Community College plans to pursue an accounting degree at Arkansas. He'll come prepared with a 3.8 grade-point average.

"I plan to play professional football after I leave the University of Arkansas," Perry said. "When I do, I want to be able to count my own money and not hire anyone else to do it. I was very impressed with the instructors in the accounting department at Arkansas when I came to visit in November. Everything related to football at Arkansas is great, but the reason I'm coming is because of the chance to continue my education."

Perry, 6-5, 283, is an offensive lineman who chose Arkansas over Mississippi State, Memphis, Southern Mississippi and Alabama-Birmingham. If he sounds overly confident, it may have to do with the odds he's already overcome.

Perry grew up in Crawford, Miss., a community of about 200 southeast of Starkville. He played in the lowest classification in Mississippi at Moor High School, attended mostly by children from farm families.

With little interest from four-year colleges, Perry went to East Mississippi and played for two years on teams that went 7-13, including 2-8 last season. But Perry established himself in the classroom and on the football field, where he was named to the JC Grid-Wire All-American team as a sophomore.

"Gene is a guy whose motor is always running, no matter what he's doing," said East Mississippi Coach Tom Goode. "He's a friendly, outgoing, workaholic who hasn't ever missed a day of school that I know of. He's the kind of kid you root for, and I know a lot of people around here are going to miss seeing him around campus every day."

Part of Perry's motivation stems the rise to NFL stardom of another Crawford native and Moor alumnus, Jerry Rice.

"I haven't seen him in a long time, but I see his pictures and trophies all over the place," Perry said. "That gets you fired up, knowing that a person can come from hardly nothing and be one of the best players ever. It's something I think about every day."

Perry and linebacker Marcus Whitmore of Independence (Kan.) Community College are the only junior college players Arkansas signed this year. Perry played left tackle at East Mississippi, but could end up at guard or tackle at Arkansas.

He is academically eligible and will arrive at Arkansas this week.

"I'll play anywhere on the line but center," Perry said. "Arkansas fans should know I'm coming to play, not sit. Once I learn the system, I'll be ready to go."

Goode, who was an AFL All-Star center with the Miami Dolphins in 1969, said Perry has outstanding potential but must improve his technique to win a starting job at Arkansas.

"He played at a small high school, then we only had him for two years," Goode said. "So, he hasn't had that much coaching. But he's a great athlete and the Arkansas coaches will have a lot to work with there."

Perry would like to at least become a starter before the Razorbacks play at Mississippi State on Nov. 23.

"Mississippi State started recruiting me late, but Arkansas got to me first and my loyalty is with the Razorbacks," Perry said. "It will be a great day when we go down to Starkville and whip the Bulldogs in front of my family and friends. Yes, sir, a great day."

Perry at a glance

SCHOOL East Mississippi Community College

POSITION Offensive guard or tackle

HT/WT 6-5, 283

PROSPECTS Perry could provide help at guard or tackle, but will likely start out at guard.

NOTEWORTHY Was recruited hard out of high school but went to junior college after making a 15 on ACT in his only attempt. Mississippi State, Clemson, LSU and Arizona were among those interested before Perry went to junior college. ... Family includes two older sisters, Peslie and Leslie. Peslie Perry graduated from Mississippi State in December. ... Works construction with his father, owner of Gene Perry Sr. and Son Construction Company. ... Enjoys hunting and fishing. ... Played football and basketball and won leadership award in high school.
07-09-2002 09:22 AM
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