Jared Perry gets second chance at "home" finale for Missouri football

Thursday, December 31, 2009 | 3:47 p.m. CST; updated 8:07 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 31, 2009

HOUSTON - Jared Perry hobbled into the Monday media session, two days removed from breaking his leg Nov. 14 against Kansas State.

The senior Missouri wide receiver maintained his composure, leaning on his crutches as he fielded questions he couldn't answer. It was too early to say what the injury meant for his future.

But he knew he couldn't play in the home finale against Iowa State. He knew he couldn't play against Kansas one more time, either.

People don't like to see players get hurt, especially when it means losing a final chance to play in front of fans.

But senior starters do not like to be figures of sympathy.

Fortunately for Perry and his teammates, Missouri won those final two games, completing an eight-win regular season worthy of bowl participation. An unlikely destination, the Texas Bowl in Houston provided many Tigers a chance to play close to home.

Jared Perry managed to be one of them. His hometown of La Marque, Texas, is about 45 minutes from Reliant Stadium.

For the opportunity to happen, Perry first had to wait.

At that first Monday media session after the injury, Coach Gary Pinkel was noncommittal about his playing status. Perry's bowl availability would depend on his recovery and the date of the game.

Perry, who ranks in the top 10 all-time at Missouri in three receiving categories, finally did join the Tigers in late December for bowl preparations.

Sophomore wide receiver Wes Kemp said he frequently saw Perry in the training room.

"Jared Perry was just in there every time Rex, our trainer, (was there), asking for treatment," he said. "And he was just fighting to get back. You saw him kind of limping out there, but he was just fighting to get back."

Kemp said he knows Alexander, who has also dealt with many injuries, talked with Perry to help him as he recovered.

"He didn't get to play his last game at Mizzou, but he got to play his last college game," Kemp said.

Perry, like the rest of his Tiger teammates, didn't play his best game Thursday in Missouri's 35-13 loss. However, on the second play against Navy, Danario Alexander turned a routine play into a spectacular touchdown, as he did so many other times in 2009.

Look closely at the replay, and there is Perry with a block to provide Alexander running room.

"It was real good, man, because I got a lot of family to come to the game," Perry said. "And usually they don't get to come. I felt good being with my teammates again and they were happy to have me back. So I just wanted to give it all for them.

"I always want to have a W, but I tried to enjoy the moment with my teammates more than anything," he said.

After Nov. 14, Jared Perry didn't participate in any more games in Columbia. But in front of his fans just a short drive from La Marque, he got one more home game.

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Maroussia . April 24, 2010 | 1:08 a.m.
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