Malcolm Perry had military aspirations all throughout high school, that much was clear.
A star quarterback and the son of soldiers, conventional wisdom would have sent him to West Point, N.Y., to play for the Black Knights. The two-time all-state selection in Tennessee had offers from all three military academies.
Due, in part, to the influence of his parents, Bonny and Malcolm M. Perry, who have a combined 40 years of service time with the Army, he committed to Navy and has carved out a respectable career as quarterback of the Midshipmen.
“They actually pushed me away from the Army,” Malcolm Perry told USA TODAY Sports.
Bonny Perry, who retired from action prior to her son’s birth, and Malcolm M. Perry, currently stationed in Iraq, put branch allegiances aside when helping their son through the college process.
“They didn’t want me going through a lot of the stuff they went through. I remember them specifically telling me some of the places they were stationed; they didn’t have the best time there. They were in the middle of nowhere, and all of the people in the Navy were in like Hawaii and Florida,” the junior quarterback explained with a laugh.
Neither parent attended the military academy — they both enlisted — but felt their experiences were enough to steer Malcolm Perry down a different path.
It came as no surprise, then, that his parents were both supportive of the decision when he made his commitment to Navy.
“They were excited. My dad gives me a little trouble when it comes to this time of year, but they were pretty excited for me,” Malcolm Perry said. “He always throws in a little comment here and there.”
Malcolm M. Perry, who has spent his son’s high school and college years stationed in the Middle East, wasn’t able to keep a close watch on his football career in high school but has made it to two games so far in Malcolm’s college career. Growing up with a father in the military gave Malcolm a strong role model, he explained, but not having him around was undoubtedly hard.
“Yeah, he was overseas a lot. He missed a lot of my football games,” the graduate of Kenwood High School in Clarksville, Tennessee, said. “That was probably the toughest part.”
With his father traveling overseas so much, Malcolm Perry came to cherish the time that his father was in the U.S.
“It was on-and-off, so there would be times where he was gone a year at a time, come back for a couple months and be gone a year at a time. At one point he was there for a while, I would say my middle school time. In high school he was back overseas. He’s pretty much been there since then,” Malcolm Perry explained.
Bonny Perry, still living in Tennessee, has done her part to attend games despite a hefty travel commitment.
“I’ve figured it out,” she told the USA TODAY Network. “I leave on a Thursday early afternoon. I drive to Bristol, Tennessee, and stay there. Then I wake up on Friday morning and make the rest of the trip. It’s a 12-hour drive straight, and I don’t want to do all of that in one day.”
Malcolm Perry, who famously got his first collegiate playing time by being called out of the stands after Navy’s starting quarterback suffered a torn ACL, has since established himself as a focal point in the program’s triple-option offense. The junior leads the team in rushing yardage with 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns.
The 5-foot-9 quarterback has experienced his share of success since his first season of significant action in 2017, but one particular accomplishment has eluded him: a win over Army. Navy’s 14-game winning streak over its rival was snapped during his freshman season in 2016 and the Black Knights have since started a two-game winning streak of their own.
The Midshipmen enter this year's game at 3-9 and will miss out on the a bowl game after 14 appearances in their previous 15 seasons.Getting his first win over the archrival would salvage an otherwise disappointing year.
“It would definitely change the way I view this whole season,” Malcolm Perry said. “I think it would do that and more.”
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