It will take more than one spring practice for Rod Perry to adjust to the college game after spending 31 years in the NFL as a player and coach.
But he’s patient.
Perry joined the Oregon State football program before the spring as the new secondary coach.
After five years and two Super Bowls with the Indianapolis Colts, Perry found himself out of a job when the Colts decided it was time to restructure.
So OSU coach Mike Riley decided the time was right to hire his old friend.
Perry was excited about the move into college football, but also nervous since it had been so long. Being able to work with Riley and defensive coordinator Mark Banker made it easier.
“It has been difficult,” Perry said. “You are teaching a different set of skills and mindset. We have players here who haven’t played the position. Or guys have played who haven’t played enough. You see the various stages.”
Perry was accustomed to working with elite athletes in the NFL, even though they might not have been playing much. They had been stars with their college teams.
Returning cornerbacks Jordan Poyer and Rashaad Reynolds have eased Perry’s transition.
“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 is also working with injured starting safety Anthony Watkins, new projected starting safety Ryan Murphy and long-time backups Keynan Parker and Sean Martin.
Then there are Peter Ashton and Malcolm Marable, who recently converted to defensive back.
“Coaching is like teaching. I try to teach down to our lesser athletes,” Perry said. “If he gets it, I know the other guys get it. I look at it as a challenge as how we can get better as a group. They’ll improve at different rates but once you get on the football field it’s football.”
The players have responded to his tutelage. Murphy, Poyer and Reynolds have stood out in the scrimmage portion of practice, making it tough on quarterback Sean Mannion and the receivers.
“I’m happy with the progress I see and each individual is getting better with their technique and approach to practices,” Perry said.
Working with Banker has been a seamless transition, in part because they coached together under Riley when they were with the San Diego Chargers from 1999-2001.
Perry taught Banker about secondaries and defenses in the NFL, which Banker brought to OSU.
They continue to learn from each other. Perry shared some ideas he has been using lately and Banker respects him enough to look into how that can help the Beavers.
“Coach Perry brings a lot of years of experience as a player and coach in the NFL,” Banker said. “Coach Perry was so big on game day for us when we were with the Chargers as far as sideline preparations and changes we would make. He’s an asset to have.”
Perry has already started working on recruiting by watching video on athletes. He doesn’t think it will be difficult to figure out the recruiting scene since NFL recruiting is similar in watching an athlete work out in person.
Now he must attend games and watch video. He just has to figure out a travel schedule.
While football has been going smoothly, the transition from Indianapolis to Corvallis is still going on.
Perry expects to complete his family’s move by the middle of May. His daughter, Miranda, has already enrolled at Corvallis High.
“As far as off the field, I’m getting close,” Perry said. “We are trying to get moved. Once I get them settled, then I can get to work.”