CHESTNUT HILL — Welcome to the world of Big Boy college football, which was on display on the Boston College campus Saturday afternoon.
It was the finale of the spring football semester, a grand prize after a few months of weight lifting, film review, official team practices and controlled scrimmages.
There was definitely a little extra bounce in everyone’s step -- players, coaches, families and fans alike -- with the annual BC Spring Football Game on display.
With a few of the stars held out, it was an opportunity to see the new, fresh faces, giving everyone, especially the coaches, a reason to hope.
It’s also a chance to see those like Andover’s E.J. Perry IV.
The quarterback will be a junior in the fall, heading into his third year on the active roster for the Eagles. In fact, Perry left high school five months early to get a head start on his college football career. He is a rare player who didn’t sit out his first season (redshirt) to learn about big-time college football and college life. After initially red-shirting as a freshman, he was called into action for a game late in the season.
For those of us that know the Perry name -- I mean “really” know the name -- the expectations for college have always been high. But EJ IV will find a way to get it done.
Which brings us back to Big Boy football and the Spring Football Game.
This is really hard. This big-time college football is a billion dollar industry. And having a name, as prominent as it might be in some parts of football, doesn’t mean a hill of beans when two or three eventual first round picks on, say, the Clemson University defensive line, are staring you down.
Perry was one of six quarterbacks who played in Saturday's spring game. The offense, all afternoon, was run in a hurry-up, no-huddle, style which was enjoyable to watch and Perry's expertise.
Two-year starting QB Anthony Brown did a quick cameo to start the day before retiring. He was the only QB, also a junior, with Perry’s experience.
Perry had one, two and three years on the others QBs on the roster. Most of them left the field feeling pretty good about themselves, with some positive plays and very few clunkers.
Perry had a decent day, completing 4 of 13 passes for 49 yards, while rushing six times for 36 yards. He had two rushes for first downs and another 15-yard run nullified on a hold away from the play.
His passing highlight was a beautiful 19-yard strike to a tight end, with three defenders around him, converting a third down.
He had two passes, one for a touchdown near the end of the half, that appeared to be near-perfect but were dropped.
“It wasn’t perfect, but I did some things I liked,” said Perry. “There were a few passes I probably shouldn’t have thrown; probably should’ve run instead. But overall it was something to build on. I’m learning out there every day.”
After spending the last two seasons as a backup at BC, seeing few chances at game action, it would’ve been easy to leave BC. Maybe find a Division 1 mid-major to play quarterback. Maybe go play for his uncle James Perry, the head coach at Brown University. The opportunities definitely would’ve been there.
But Perry is in this, he says, for the long haul at Boston College.
“This is where I want to be,” he said after the spring game. “I love it here. I just have to keep focusing on getting better, improving. I’ll look at this film, try and correct a few things.”
Perry has about four months of work, most on his own, to prepare for the upcoming 2019 season.
As for playing and starting, those are thoughts that aren’t on his mind right now.
Doing what athletes named “Perry” do best -- competing -- is his modus operandi.
“I love to compete every day,” said Perry. “Whether it’s internally, at practice, or externally, in a game. I love it. I’m in this for the long haul.”
You can email Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.