Ohio State senior linebacker Joshua Perry will run onto the turf at Ohio Stadium on Saturday one last time with a crowd of more than 108,00 watching. He could be thinking of the last four years. He committed to the Buckeyes during the Jim Tressel era and ended up playing in the first four years of the Urban Meyer era.
Perry could be thinking about how the Buckeyes finished 6-7 when he was a senior at Olentangy High School and how they are 48-3 in the years since. If they win five more games, they will repeat as national champions, and the seniors will finish their careers on a 28-game winning streak.
When Perry runs onto the field Saturday before the No. 3 Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0) play No. 9 Michigan State (9-1, 5-1) at 3:30 p.m., he will only be thinking, “Don’t trip. Just make it as smooth as possible.”
That’s how Perry’s four years have gone. He has played in 48 of 51 games. He has started 34 games the last three seasons.
Perry ranks second on the team with 73 tackles this season and leads all current players with 266 career tackles. No one else on the team has more than 200.
Perry has had a storybook career, no matter what happens the rest of the season. He has thought about that this week as he prepares for the emotions of Senior Day.
“I’m a very reflective person,” Perry said. “I’ve been thinking about it, reflecting on my time here and how quickly it’s really gone — that’s the craziest thing — and how much I’ve learned during the experience. I’m not much of a tears guy. It’s not going to be like that. It’s probably going to be more fun than anything on Saturday.”
Ohio State will honor 18 seniors, including Wayne High graduate Braxton Miller and Butler graduate Taylor Decker. All committed to the Buckeyes when the idea of a national championship was just that — an idea and not the reality it is.
“The one thing I kept saying to my parents and people who kept talking to me about it is Ohio State’s always going to be a great school,” Perry said. “We’re always going to find the best players. We’re always going to have a really good program inside and out, top to bottom.”
Perry committed to Ohio State in June 2010. He was the first player in the class of 2012 to make his commitment. Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell recruited him. Perry had a close relationship with Fickell, so when Meyer kept Fickell on his staff, Perry stuck with the Buckeyes.
“It’s all about the relationships,” Perry said. “(These coaches) are the guys who were there from the very start. They saw me at my worst. They saw me when I was a really scrawny guy. They helped me develop and grow into things I didn’t even know I could become.”