DODGE CITY, Kan. -- The way things ended for Koby Perry at Alcovy, it would’ve been understandable for the talented defensive back to fade into oblivion, purposefully trying not to be heard from again.
Perry finished a successful senior season for Alcovy football back in 2016, but was unable to finish out his time at the school due to a fight he got into that triggered some legal problems. Instead, the 6-foot, 180-pound strong safety bounced back, and is making the most of his opportunity to play college football at Dodge City (Kansas) Community College.
Perry was the second leading tackler on a Dodge City team that finished 4-7 in the 2017 season, second only to linebacker Lakia Henry, a four-star prospect rated as the No. 2 JUCO inside linebacker in the country, with strong interest from 2017 national champion Alabama.
In this week’s College Football Q&A series, Perry sounds off on everything from his maturation as a man and a football player to how overcoming his struggles increased his hunger to perform on the field and in the classroom.
STOVALL: So. Mr. Perry, a lot has happened to you on and off the football field since playing your last down at Alcovy. First, tell me about what things have been like as a college football player?
PERRY: “On the field it’s been pretty much a learning experience because I was coming out of high school and didn’t know a whole lot about what it took to play on this level. It’s kind of different at the JUCO level, because you’ve got players from all over the country competing for a job. At safety there were like 15 to 20 players trying to gain edge on the next man. I ended up starting, though, as a freshman."
STOVALL: What was getting on the field and playing meaningful minutes as a freshman starter like for you?
PERRY: “It’s like, when I started the plays were so hard, and I was kind of trying to get the whole defense. But I really spent the year picking things up on the hop."
STOVALL: And academically, things have been a lot different for you now than in high school, right?
PERRY: “Oh, most definitely. Off the field, particularly in the classroom, I didn’t do as well. But in college I decided I was going to take it seriously. I finished last semester with a 3.5 GPA. I don’t have my overall GPA for the year yet, but yeah, I definitely picked it up in the classroom. I figured if I messed up in high school and get a second chance, it’d be dumb to go to college and do the same stuff I did in high school.”
STOVALL: So what’s different about Koby Perry the college player, versus Koby Perry the high school guy?
PERRY: “Because I’m more confident with what I do, I’m more vocal. Like, coaches stay on me about taking over the secondary, so because of that, I stay in the playbook. I’m trying to know the whole defense so I can be like the quarterback of the defense. Competition wise, junior college is not what I thought it was. You’ve got bounce-back players who were first at Georgia and Alabama. They’re good, man. Real good. It’s like a dog-eat-dog type of world out here, but it’s definitely made me better. I was never nervous playing as a freshman. I wasn’t intimidated. I’ve always had that swagger like I was a baller who could go with anybody. That comes from the way I prepare myself to play.”
STOVALL: And what’s that preparation like now? How is it different than from high school?
PERRY: “First, it’s in the weight room. I’m always pushing. I’ve gotten bigger. Probably put on about 10 to 12 pounds. I don’t focus other people, how big they are or how much they lift. I focus on myself and get stronger. But my biggest thing is film. I study day and night. I come ask questions. I always feel like that’s the key component to being successful at the next level. So I study, study, study. The film room is like eating to me. And I enjoy it. I go out on the field, know what to expect.”
STOVALL: I know you had a few unfortunate things happen to you toward the end of your time at Alcovy. Are you still dealing with those issues, or have you gotten past all of that?
PERRY: “I’m still on it a little bit, just trying to get it all behind me. But it’s almost like I left it in God’s hands, and so I thank God for where I’m at now. I’m taking care of the situation and I don’t really think about it because I feel like God is working it out. It’s almost like when the situation with the fight happened, it felt like you lost everything you ever had. But through it all, God’s shown me that you can still do what you set out to do and leave all the bad things behind. I’ve matured. I don’t even like coming home anymore because I don’t want to get close to any more issues, so I’m grateful for my progress.”
STOVALL: JUCO kind of gives you a new lease on life as far as recruiting goes. What’s the recruiting situation been like for you since being in Kansas?
PERRY: “It’s been almost a humbling experience. You know, when you start this stuff, it’s like you’re expecting offers right away. But being here has made me much more patient. Like the linebacker I came in with, Lakia. He’s got Alabama Tennessee, all those schools on him. Any school you can name, they want him. But for me, I don’t stress about it. I’ve heard from TCU, Kansas, Toledo, Texas Tech and some others. It’s all interest right now, but I’m just waiting my turn. I’m just focused on winning right now. I’m trying to win a championship here with the guys I’m playing with. And if I focus on winning, I think all that other stuff will come.”
STOVALL: Finally, if you could sum up everything you’ve learned in these almost two years away from home, how would you do it?
PERRY: “Just being humble and keeping God first. That’s it. That gets you through everything you need to get through. That keeps you grounded and able to be your best.”