The 2012 Louisville football team will feature a backfield of at least four (possibly five) running backs fighting for carries. Thus far, none of them can claim the title of primary ball carrier/ Junior Dominique Brown, who had more carries than anyone on the current roster last year, is likely a popular choice to get the majority of carries this year. Jeremy Wright, with his big play ability and hard-nosed running style, is another player that could just as easily. The other three candidates are redshirt freshman Corvin Lamb, incoming freshman Brandon Radcliff, and junior Senorise Perry. Perry is a name that likely all die-hard Cards fans know, but more casual fans may know little to nothing about him. Yet, if Perry continues what he has been doing since last year and this offseason, those fans will know his name soon enough.
Perry was part of Charlie Strong’s first recruiting class at U of L as part of the class of 2010. In a class that featured big names like Michaelee Harris, Dominique Brown, BJ Butler, as well as running backs Kamal Hogan and Quan Weaver (the latter never made it to campus), way on down the list was a 2-star safety recruit named Senorise Perry. For those unfamiliar with recruiting rankings (first of all, be proud of this), a 2-star recruit is not a player you exactly go bragging to rival team fans about. With recruits like this, you basically welcome them aboard, trust that the coaching staff sees something unique in them, and hope they turn into something special. Some 2-star recruits, like former Cards Amobi Okoye, Bilal Powell, and Elvis Dumervil turn out to be diamond-in-the-rough stars. Contrary to that, many 4-star and 5-star recruits never amount to much, and end up as disappointments. In most cases, it is wise to look at the players offer sheet and see what other schools were interested. According to Perry’s Scout.com profile, his only offers were from U of L and Western Carolina, but did have interest from SEC powerhouses Auburn, Florida, and Georgia. He attended camp at Georgia and Florida as well. Sometimes when a player is ranked as low as a 2-star recruit, it means recruiting analysts have not seen enough film on him to rank him any higher. Whatever the reason was for ranking him as a 2-star recruit, it was clear other schools, particuarly U of L and Charlie Strong, saw something in him that the analysts did not.
According to ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson (who, by the way, does fantastic work covering the Big East for the network), when discussing the running back situation, U of L offensive coordinator specifically mentioned Perry as someone who has put himself in great position to get a bulk of the carries. Watson complimented his great speed, his finishing ability, and the type of finishing speed that can make third-level defenders miss. He even went so far as to compare him to former star U of L running back Bilal Powell.
Comparing a running back who rushed just 12 times for 27 yards last season (all stats courtesy of ESPN.com) to a current NFL running back and former college superstar is pretty bold, to say the least. Yet, let us not forget what kind of recruit Bilal Powell was coming out of high school. Just like Perry, Powell was also ranked as a 2-star prospect by Scout. He was also projected to play in the secondary in college, just like Perry (although he was projected as a defensive back rather than a safety). Those comparisons are eerily similar, are they not? When prior to the 2010 season, Charlie Strong described Powell as “the face” of the program, many fans were taken by surprise. Some may have even snickered at the thought. How could a guy who has mainly been a backup and special teams player be the face of the program, particularly when we have the former Big East freshman of the year (Victore Anderson) playing the same position? Charlie Strong knew why, and during the 2010 season, fans witnessed one of the most impressive season by a U of L running back in years.
Now, will Perry duplicate what Powell accomplished? Those are some very big shoes to fill, and by saying he is like Powell does not necessarily mean we will see the same type of results. It is actually unfair of us to expect such a thing. However, just as Powell showed, big seasons can happen from the most unlikely of candidates. Perry clearly has the ability to do so. His 13-yard touchdown run in Morgantown against West Virginia gave us a glimpse of what kind of back he could be. Many of you know as well that U of L ranked first in punt coverage last season. Now, do you know who was the primary gunner on that punt coverage unit? Senorise Perry. His speed and all out hustle were a huge part in making us the most efficient punt coverage unit in the nation. He was also a star in the return game, averaging 26.2 yards per kickoff return (returning 8 kicks for 210 yards, per UofLSports.com). For a running game that ranked 93rd overall last year, can he make the same type of impact? That is difficult to answer, especially in a backfield crowded with talented players. However, Perry has caught the eye of offensive coordinator Watson, and after being the primary ball carrier in the Spring Game, he certainly is in great position to make an attempt to do so.