December 16, 2008

Perry starring at new position

As National Signing Day approached, recruiting fans wondered if USC would be able to swipe some big-time prospects from underneath their backyard schools.

In 2008, the Trojans did it twice, getting T.J. Bryant from Florida State and Nick Perry from Michigan State and Michigan.

Bryant has had a nice freshman season, looking solid on the back end of the Trojans' cornerback rotation.

Perry's year, though, has been a little different.

Perry missed the bulk of fall camp while the NCAA reviewed his transcripts. The late arrival almost ensured he'd redshirt, and Perry started the season trying to play catch up.

He's been moved around the field, playing linebacker, defensive end and most recently, defensive tackle.

"I came out here to play end, but I'm in it to win it. We'll see how it goes," Perry said. "If I play end, I'll play end. If they want me at the three technique, I'll play there. If they want me at safety, I'll play safety."

Perry has looked good after moving inside, partly because of an injury to Armond Armstead. He recorded a sack during Friday's practice and batted down a pass at the end of Saturday's practice to win the day for the defense.

"We're just gathering information," USC head coach Pete Carroll said. "He's looking good at both spots. He's made plays at both spots. He was a stand-up, run-around guy who rushed a lot in high school.

"Now, we're just trying to figure it out."

Perry's currently weighing around 250 pounds, and the Trojan coaches are curious to see how his body reacts to a full year in USC's strength program.

"I don't know how much bigger Nick's going to get. He looks like he's got a great frame," defensive line coach David Watson said. "He might end up playing inside; he might end up being the greatest end we've ever seen.

"The more looks where we can get a good, quick player against a guard, we'll try to take advantage of that."

With Kyle Moore, Clay Matthews and Fili Moala all graduating, the Trojans will need to replace a big chunk of their pass rush.

With Perry, USC will have the luxury to move a player between a number of spots to maximize his pass-rushing ability.

"He's a good a football player," Watson said. "That's why we recruit guys like that."

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