BY GENE NARDI
Royal Palm Beach High School running back/linebacker Charles Perry graduated this year and now embarks on his childhood dream of playing football for the University of Miami Hurricanes.
“I’ve always wanted to play for UM, since I was a kid,” Perry told the Town-Crier.
The freshman will start with his new team this fall as a linebacker for the Hurricanes defense. The 6-foot-2, 216-pound Perry played linebacker and running back for the Wildcats.
As a running back his junior and senior year, he tallied 1,300 yards rushing and racked up 17 touchdowns. As a linebacker his senior year, he compiled 60 tackles.
Perry also earned team captain status his senior year and led his team to its best season in school history, posting an 11-2 overall record, the District 13-7A title and the school’s first regional final appearance.
Perry began in high school football as a freshman at Cardinal Newman under coach Steve Walsh, then transferred to Royal Palm Beach, where he started on varsity for coach Willie Bueno all three years.
“The year coach Bueno came in, we were 1-9, and he turned our program around,” Perry said. “It was a great experience, and I have a lot of respect for him. He’s the best in Palm Beach County.”
Perry had several major Division I offers on the table, but his mind was set on his childhood dream of playing for the Hurricanes.
College football fans would have no trouble recognizing the top programs that were interested in Perry — Alabama, the University of Florida, Florida State, Auburn and the University of Illinois round out his list.
“The first day I walked into the Miami locker room and saw my name on a locker, it was just crazy,” Perry said. “This is really happening!”
Perry stressed that the road has not been easy. It has taken a lot of hard work and constant determination to maintain his athletic abilities and his studies to excel both on the field and in the classroom. However, he does whatever it takes to fulfill his dreams and help his teammates. “I need to work hard and give 100 percent all of the time,” he said.
Perry’s early role model was Devin Hester, a special-teams returner for the Chicago Bears, who now plays for the Atlanta Falcons. Hester also is a former Hurricane and Palm Beach County football standout for Suncoast High School.
“I always liked him,” Perry said. “I just remember that he was so fast, and I wanted to be like him.”
Perry is majoring in business management at the University of Miami and hopes to get drafted into the National Football League after his college football career.
“That’s it, right there; I want to play in the NFL, but I have to stay focused in school and get my degree and hopefully I can get drafted,” he said.
Being a longtime Dolphin fan will not hinder Perry from playing anywhere should he be drafted, he said.
Perry did provide some advice for the younger players who have dreams of playing in college.
“Put in the hard work and stay dedicated to your dreams, and don’t give up for anything,” he said.
Perry is living his dream, but it is only a result of his unconditional dedication to his love for the game and his thirst for success in life.
The Hurricanes open up in their fall season at home against Bethune-Cookman University on Sept. 5.
ABOVE: Charles Perry runs for a big gain in the regional semifinal game against Fort Lauderdale.