Success in the secondary led to a large part of the turnaround for the Oregon State football team this season.

A big part of the improved play by the defensive backs came from the tutelage of first-year coach Rod Perry.

His 28 years of coaching experience, primarily in the NFL, made a difference in teaching the players the intricacies of cornerback and safety.

“It was a great year,” Perry said. “Guys really worked hard and we had some growth with people. Winning creates a climate with good things happening.”

The secondary produced 17 of the 19 interceptions this season; cornerback Jordan Poyer led the way with seven. Defensive backs had 32 of the 44 pass breakups, led by cornerback Rashaad Reynolds with 13.

“He has brought everything he has to us from his knowledge of the game,” Poyer said. “I’m just learning new things from him every day. It’s the little things with details to assignments, technique and run reads. It’s good to have him as a coach, and he’s a good person.”

Perry found the college game enjoyable. He’s working with players not only to develop them on the field, but as people.

He wasn’t able to do that in the NFL. It was strictly business with producing on the field.

“From that point it was rewarding,” Perry said. “I always enjoyed working with the players. You can’t do that in the NFL.”

He knew college coaching was going to be different, but he now wants to make his OSU stay long-term. His family has settled in Corvallis and likes it here.

“I have no desire right now to go back to the NFL,” Perry said. “I’m happy with what I’m doing. I’m happy to be involved with (coach) Mike (Riley). We have good players coming in next year.”

The biggest change Perry had to deal with was recruiting. He hasn’t recruited since the early 1970s when he was at Colorado.

He had many rules to learn before being ready. However, being a novice didn’t slow down the Beavers.

They have received four verbal commitments from defensive backs in the current recruiting class, and one signed junior college player in Steven Nelson.

Perry is getting more comfortable, and that can only help OSU.

“When you get down to it, it’s about communicating with people to get them interested in this program,” Perry said. “You are yourself and sell yourself and coach Riley.”

Cliff Kirkpatrick covers Oregon State sports for the Gazette-Times. He can be reached at cliff.kirkpatrick@lee.net.

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