UM's Grant Perry not letting past catch up with him
Ann Arbor — Michigan junior Grant Perry looks around the receivers room and sees a number of talented youngsters.
Suddenly, it seems, he has become an elder statesman and takes that seriously, offering advice to the underclassmen receivers.
Perry is now the Wolverines’ leading active receiver now that freshman Tarik Black requires foot surgery for an injury suffered in last Saturday’s game against Air Force. Perry has 10 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown through three games. Michigan opens its Big Ten schedule at Purdue this weekend.
“I see them going through what I went through, just simple mistakes and they’re learning from them and I’m trying to show them what not to do on the field, in the meeting rooms, just so they don’t make the mistakes I did playing football,” Perry, who joins Moe Ways and Jack Wangler as the older receivers, said Tuesday night after practice. “With youth comes learning, and they’re coming along really well.
Perry is grateful to still be part of the Wolverines and on the field.
He was suspended from two regular-season games last year, returned to play, and was later suspended again and did not travel to the bowl and missed spring practice and the trip to Rome. Perry was sentenced in early August to 12 months probation stemming from an incident outside an East Lansing bar last October.
Perry, 20, pleaded guilty in June to one count of resisting a police officer, a felony with a maximum sentence of two years in prison, and he also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault and battery. Prosecutors dropped two counts of misdemeanor fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and a charge of minor in possession of alcohol. He had been accused of sexually grabbing a woman outside the bar.
Because he was sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, there is no felony on his record as long as he fulfills the judge’s requirements, which include staying out of bars and also doing 60 hours of community service.
Asked if he ever considered not being allowed back on the team, Perry politely made clear he’s moving on.
“That’s in the past,” Perry said Tuesday. “Just focused on football now.
"I’m very happy to be here, though.”
He said he has changed since the arrest.
“I definitely learned lessons,” Perry said. “Just taking things for granted. I appreciate that. But I’m focused on the football aspect of it and school.”
He was fully reinstated to the team in August by athletic director Warde Manuel. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who had allowed Perry to rejoin the team for summer conditioning and preseason camp, supported Manuel’s decision.
“It was never a good situation from the beginning,” Harbaugh said at the time. “None of us liked it, that one of ours was in a situation like that. But it is good to have some resolution to it. It’s been investigated, prosecuted, adjudicated in a court of law. Everyone had their day in court, and that’s what I’d call a good thing.”
Ian Bunting, a Michigan tight end and close friend, said Perry handled the suspension and the legal process with maturity.
“He handled it like a professional,” Bunting said. “We’re all really excited to have him back. We all agree he is back deservedly so. He’s a great kid, a great competitor and he’s a great teammate.”
Perry may play an increased role in Black’s absence, along with freshman Donovan Peoples-Jones, who had an electrifying punt return for a touchdown against Air Force and sophomores Kekoa Crawford and Eddie McDoom.
“That’s a really tough loss. Prayers up for Tarik,” Perry said, adding he had seen Black in the training room and was upbeat. “Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it, whether that’s taking more reps for him, whatever their plan is I’m ready for it.”
He is particularly impressed by Peoples-Jones, the nation's top-rated receiver. Perry worked with the young receiver when he was still in high school at Cass Tech. Perry was asked what the bar is for Peoples-Jones.
“Beyond the moon, beyond the sun, wherever you want to go,” Perry said. “He’s a special breed. Really talented. I worked with him a lot in high school, so I always knew that. Really excited when he came here. He’s going to be special.”
Peoples-Jones had issues on a punt return in the Cincinnati game and was replaced by Perry. Harbaugh said he Peoples-Jones was waiting too long to make a decision and wanted Perry’s experience back there.
And then Peoples-Jones had the 79-yard punt return for a touchdown last weekend.
“Teams are definitely going to start kicking away from him, seeing what he can do,” Perry said. “All it took was a little extra practice. He kind of stumbled up with a couple punts against Cincinnati, but I had the utmost confidence in him coming back strong.”
The objective now is for Michigan’s offense to have a strong rebound. Through the first three games, the Wolverines have come up with one touchdown in 10 red-zone trips. They were 0-for-4 against Air Force and have had to rely on kicker Quinn Nordin.
Perry said practice this week has been focused on red-zone offense.
“We’ve been working on some things, and I really think this week we’re going to turn things around,” he said. “There were a few mistakes here and there whether someone missed a block or ran a wrong route, and those things can easily be fixed.”
Michigan at Purdue
Kickoff: 4 Saturday, Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Ind.
Records: Michigan 3-0, Purdue 2-1
Line: Michigan by 10
Notable: This is the first meeting between Michigan and Purdue since the 2012 season. The Wolverines won that game 44-13 at West Lafayette.