Dual-sport athletes are a rarity at the collegiate level as the sheer workload of playing just one sport is often too much for student-athletes. Most collegiate-bound high school athletes are multi-sport athletes at that level, but are typically advised to hone in on one game. The best of the best are good enough to play both at one of the highest levels. One of those multi talented athletes is UWG’s LaPerion Perry.
“He’s a dynamic guy,” said UWG men’s football coach David Dean. “We try to find ways to put the ball in his hands because he can just make things happen. His work ethic is second-to-none, he loves to play and always has a smile on his face. He’s a great player.”
Perry is a sophomore from LaGrange, Georgia that plays football and basketball at UWG. He appeared in 16 games and averaged 4.4 points per game in his first season playing college basketball. He also shined as a return specialist and wide receiver on the Wolves football team. In terms of the physical difficulties of playing through both sports, Perry clarifies that there are not many.
“It’s not hard at all,” said Perry. “It’s really just a mind thing and preparing for whatever that comes in the way. My body’s recovering from all the injuries and hits I took in football, so now I just have to get back in basketball shape.”
Perry is coming off a big football season with two kickoff return touchdowns and a career-best game against Delta State in which he hauled in six catches for 183 yards and two receiving touchdowns. After redshirting his first football season, Perry goes into the basketball season with a full season of wear and tear from football for the first time.
“I’m trying to get my body right so I can be stable and come to the court healthy and ready to go,” said Perry.
As the physical parts of his translation to basketball season are progressing, having to regain the feel and the skills for the game, after solely focusing on football for so long, is a tedious process.
“Last Monday was the first time I’ve touched a basketball since August,” said Perry. “It was my first time really in the gym like that, getting shots up and putting in work after practice.”
This process has caused Perry to miss the first seven games of the UWG basketball season. There is not a window for him to make his season debut but Perry is continuing to be patient and learn.
“I’m still not sure,” said Perry. “Right now it’s all up to the coaches. They say if I can learn the plays faster I’ll have an opportunity to get out there.”
In addition to regaining his basketball form, Perry has had to learn the schematics of new head coach Dave Moore. Even if it delays his return, the feeling around this basketball team has Perry locked in.
“I like it because we work hard in practice,” said Perry. “There’s no off-switch. It was mostly the same way with Cooney, just a little more laid back. With Moore, we’re constantly going.”
Perry is set to play another three seasons of football and basketball as he’s setting up for a brilliant athletic career at UWG. He has always had the pedigree in football, being recognized as a three-star athlete by 24/7 Sports and ESPN, but Perry is all about seizing opportunity.
“I had a football scholarship, but I found out during my recruiting that a lot of schools were letting go of me because I was injured,” said Perry. “UWG gave me the opportunity to play both and I took it because I really like basketball.
“I plan on doing it as long as I can do it,” continued Perry. “If it comes to it I’ll have to choose one or the other and pursue my dream, even though I work hard at both.”
Those who follow UWG athletics will be hearing Perry’s name a lot in the coming years as he is to become a focal point of the football team going forward with his great speed and finesse. Perry has what it takes to go down as a legendary athlete at UWG depending on what he accomplishes. Becoming a dual-sport college athlete is a feat not accomplished by many, and it makes Perry’s potential so special.