Sometimes you have to follow your heart, even if it comes with great risk.
For Port Charlotte’s Tyler Perry, following his passion meant passing on a Division I football scholarship to take the junior college route and continue his dream of playing basketball.
Perry originally signed to play wide receiver at the University of South Dakota in December, but decided to forgo that opportunity to sign with Pasco-Hernando State College.
After keeping this a secret for months, Perry joins teammate Rondell Adderly, who signed with PHSC earlier in the year.
“South Dakota is a great school,” Perry said. “Nothing against the school, nothing against the coaches, but at the end of the day you have to do what makes you feel good. My heart wasn’t 100 percent in football anymore. I had a great basketball season and I felt that this was what really I wanted to pursue.
“It feels really good to let everybody know. It’s not a secret anymore.”
Perry said he didn’t have any intention of playing football as a senior because he wanted to focus on basketball. But with help from Port Charlotte football coach Jordan Ingman, Perry was able to split his time and became one of the better athletes on the team. That help him land the offer from South Dakota.
But basketball was always his passion and when he got the chance to make the switch, he decided to jump at the opportunity and bet on himself.
Perry was an instrumental piece in Port Charlotte’s perfect regular season. He averaged 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
“At first I was really hesitant, like do I really wanna stop playing football? Am I sure this is really what I want to do?” Perry said. “But at the end of the day I had my mind made up. Right now (I’m not nervous) because I’m pretty confident in myself.”
Perry said he has already garnered some buzz from schools that may want to pluck him from PHSC after a year or two. For now his focus is on making his freshman season his best yet.
Perry was one of six Pirates closing out their senior years by signing to play collegiately.
Other signees included Yuri Brady and Marcus Nelson of the football team, who both signed with Trinity Bible College and Sam DiBene, who signed to play volleyball with Indian River Community College.
The Port Charlotte baseball team also added two more signees, bringing its total to seven on the year. In fact, all 10 members of the 2019 senior class received an offer to play, but three opted for either an academic route or armed forces.
Outfielder Hunter Wilder signed to play with South Florida State College and third baseman Will Hepner signed to play with Missouri Valley.
The school nearly doubled its amount of signed athletes from 2018.
“It’s very reliving,” Wilder said. “Knowing that you’re gonna continue and play at the next level is a great feeling. We havre a lot of talent, even though it didn’t show this year. We had a great group of guys that worked hard.”