By Duncan Woodward
By leading the Navy football team to a narrow victory against a talented Memphis team Sept. 8, Midshipmen quarterback Malcolm Perry showed how he makes tragedy his motivation to triumph.
In April 2005, when Perry was just 8 years old, his older sister, Nichelle, died from heart complications, The Athletic reported Sept. 11.
“That was a tough time for my family,” Perry said on Glenn Clark Radio Sept. 12. “She was like the backbone of our family, kept us all together.”
While Perry and his family still grieve the loss of his sister today, the Clarksville, Tenn., native thinks playing college football has given his family hope.
“It keeps my family together,” Perry said. “Gives us something to look forward to, to watch every Saturday.”
With performances like Sept. 8, however, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound junior is gaining attention for his work on the gridiron. Perry totaled 166 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns against Memphis, while completing two of his three passes in Navy’s run-heavy, triple option offense. He also had one of the most dynamic runs in recent memory.
Drawing comparisons to former Navy star Keenan Reynolds for his small stature and quick feet, Perry was named Navy’s starting quarterback following his standout performance in last year’s Army-Navy game, during which the Mids came one field goal away from defeating the Black Knights.
Perry replaced Pasadena, Md., native Zach Abey, who was the starting quarterback for the majority of last season. Abey, a senior, now lines up at wide receiver rather than backing up Perry.
“Whatever situation calls us to do whatever job, I think we’re both fine with it,” Perry said. “I’m excited about it, it seems to be working pretty well.”
With matchups against No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 18 Central Florida this season, Navy has a tough schedule ahead. Perry thinks veteran head coach Ken Niumatalolo knows how to get his players ready to compete at a high level while understanding the added responsibilities they have as students at the U.S. Naval Academy.
“He shows a lot of respect, but at the end of the day he’s a football coach,” Perry said. “He has to get down to business. He gets us ready to win games.”
Moving forward, Perry hopes to prove Navy’s disappointing 6-6 record last season, culminating with the loss to Army, was just a learning experience, and that the Midshipmen can persevere and win.
“Seasons are long. Football games are long,” Perry said. “Never giving up usually ends up in your favor.”
To hear more from Perry, listen here:
Photo Credit: Alex Edelman/PressBox