Jared Perry following wherever football leads him

Friday, August 31, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Former Missouri wide receiver Jared Perry breaks from an Iowa Barnstormers defender during an Arena Football League game in May. He will play in the United Football League this fall.

On the Missouri football team, Jared Perry played alongside the likes of Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Sean Weatherspoon, all of whom went on to establish themselves in the National Football League.

In the meantime, Perry, a wide receiver, bounced around the continent looking for a chance to continue playing. 

Jared Perry statistics

2012 season with the Rush:
1,811 yards receiving
133 receptions
31 touchdowns
100.6 receiving yards per game
Named Rookie of the Year 

2009 senior season with Missouri:
696 yards
46 receptions
6 touchdowns 

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His opportunity finally came this season with the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League, where his 33 touchdowns and 1,811 passing yards earned him the league's Rookie of the Year award. 

Perry's breakout came after two years of unsuccessful tryouts. After graduating in 2010, he spent time in the training camps of the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles but was cut from both squads. 

He played in two preseason games for a Canadian Football League team but didn't make the cut there either.

Perry said his journey to the Rush both helped him improve his play against tougher competition and helped him adjust to the mindset of a professional player.

"I learned how to get open and understand the game of football better," he said. "When stuff like that happens, it's frustrating. I just know it's a business, and everything happens for a reason."

He said his time in the CFL helped him get used to a different style of play, and he continued to train until he was discovered by the Chicago Rush. 

Despite his unsuccessful attempts to play professionally, Perry came to Chicago with confidence, said Rush coach Bob McMillen.

"He was a guy that came in with an attitude that he was the best guy on the field," McMillen said. "That's the kind of guy you want on your team, to come in and practice hard every day, contribute, keep their mouth quiet and go on the field. He does that day in and day out."

McMillen said Perry stayed quiet but led by example. What he lacked in height, he made up for with good hands and accurate route-running. 

While Perry, a Texas native, is training in Chicago, he will be moving to Omaha, Neb., soon to play for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League.

After that, things get less clear. 

The Rush have the first rights to re-sign him in the AFL, but Perry hopes he might be able to open up some more doors. 

"When that time comes, I'll be able to make that decision," Perry said. "As of right now, I'm supposed to go play in the UFL and see if that takes me back to the NFL."

McMillen said he hopes to re-sign Perry, a fan favorite next season, but would be happy to see him get another opportunity elsewhere.

"He's a guy I love coaching because he wants to do what he can to be great," McMillen said. "He's a guy who has a bright future and deserves a chance in the NFL or CFL."

As Perry continues to build his football career, he said he's thankful for the foundation he built while at MU.

"I have friends in the league, and we keep in contact," he said. "It gave me a chance to play professional football. I felt the decision I made to go to Mizzou was a good one."

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