BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University football team held a scrimmage Thursday.
For Brandon Perce, it was less of a scrimmage and more of a coming out party, as the junior linebacker had several big hits that created some buzz.
“When I was watching the film, I realized I could have let up a little bit. These are my teammates,” he said. “But when you have so much stuff inside you and you get a chance to let it out, it’s hard to take it easy.”
Bowling Green State University junior linebacker Brandon Perce had several big hits in last Thursday's scrimmage that created some buzz among teammates.
BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY Enlarge
That “stuff” inside Perce was the frustration that had built up as he was forced to overcome several obstacles to eventually play Division I football.
After the 5-foot-11, 221-pound linebacker graduated from Central High School in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis, Wis., he had no Division I offers. So he walked on at Dodge City (Kan.) Junior College, but did not make the team. Undeterred, he transferred to Rochester (Minn.) Community and Technical College, a non-scholarship junior college.
“It was a difficult decision because I was talking to both schools in high school,” Perce said. “I knew the difference in competition, so I decided to take the risk at Dodge City, but I wasn’t in good enough shape.
“But when I transferred to Rochester, I knew if I worked hard enough I could prove myself there.”
That is what Perce did. In his first season with the Yellowjackets, he made 90 tackles at middle linebacker, including 16½ for loss, and intercepted two passes. Last year he made 128 stops, including 36 behind the line of scrimmage, and forced three fumbles to earn National Junior College Athletic Association All-Region XIII honors.
“After my first season at Rochester, I only had Division II offers,” Perce said. “So I took another chance and stuck with it for another season, because I thought if I kept working hard it would pay off.”
It paid off when Perce signed with Bowling Green in December, then enrolled during the spring semester to get a chance to practice with the team right away.
During the scrimmage, any frustrations still in his system were expelled with a big hit that knocked receiver Calvin Clater out of practice, as well as a collision that almost sidelined running back Bryson Denley.
Perce also scooped up a fumble caused by cornerback Sy Dabney and returned it for a touchdown.
“It was our first day going ‘live,’ and that is when I shine,” Perce said. “I’m not the most athletic guy, but when we get full pads on and can hit I think I stand out more.
“It was fun.”
BG coach Mike Jinks noticed the big hits. But he and the defensive coaching staff also noticed there were times Perce was out of position, either before the snap or during the play.
“When we went and watched the video, there were some alignment things we needed to fix,” Jinks said. “But he did make up for his mistakes by playing the game the right way.
“He was around the ball all day long.”
Perce realized the big plays were a positive, but he needed to pay attention to alignments and assignments instead of “freelancing” as he sometimes did in junior college.
“I had a lot adrenaline going because I wanted to prove myself and make a lot of plays,” he said. “But that got the best of me because I sometimes lacked on the technique that we’ve been taught in spring ball.
“I need to get more under control, focus on the techniques and basics and getting the plays down instead of trying to take somebody’s head off.”
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