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Tommy Perry begins his second season at North Texas as the running backs coach and special teams coordinator.
In just one season Perry completely transformed the Mean Green special teams unit, turning into one of the best in the nation.
North Texas led the nation with eight blocked kicks in 2013, including five blocked punts which also led the nation. Of those five blocked punts, three resulted in touchdowns. Perry's impact on special teams was also felt on the return game.
Prior to Perry's arrival, NT had combined for only 142 punt return yards since 2008. In 2013 Brelan Chancellor broke the school record with 386 punt return yards. He returned a 65-yard punt for a touchdown against Rice, becoming the first player to return a punt for a score since 2004 for NT. Chancellor averaged 16.1 yards a punt return in 2013, the highest total in a season since 1982.
Perry also reformed the Mean Green kickoff returns. Chancellor averaged 27.6 yards per kick return, including a 99-yard touchdown return against No. 9 Georgia. Chancellor ended the 2013 season as the only player in the nation to rank in the top-10 in kick returns and punt returns.
Perry also molded freshman punter Blake Macek into one of most effective punters in C-USA. Macek was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team in 2013 after averaging 41.1 yards a kick, the highest freshman average in school history. 40 percent of Macek's punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, which ranked 15th in the nation. He had 14 punts of over 50-yards and 27 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line.
The North Texas running backs also thrived under Perry in 2013. Brandin Byrd had his first 1,000-yard rushing season and two of the top-10 longest rushes in school history in 2013. NT as a team rushed for 31 touchdowns in 2013, the second most in school history and most since 1951.
Perry has nearly a decade of coaching experience. Prior to North Texas, he spent four seasons as an assistant at South Alabama where he coached the running backs and was the special teams coordinator.
In 2012, the first season at the FBS level for South Alabama, Perry coached placekicker Michel Chapuseaux, who set a school record for scoring with 84 points. Chapuseaux hit 20 field goals last season, the second most in Sun Belt Conference history. South Alabama had four running backs with over 200 yards rushing last season.
In 2011, Perry coached placekicker Jordan Means, who connected on 13-of-15 field goals and was South Alabama's first All-America after he was honored by the Beyond Sports College Network.
In addition to Means' performance, punter Scott Garber finished 17th among all punters at the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision with an average of 41.7 yards per kick, Jeremé Jones ended up 27th with an average of 8.61 yards per punt return, and, as a team USA stood eighth after recording 23.91 yards per kickoff return.
In the offensive backfield, the duo of Kendall Houston and Demetre Baker both finished among the top 10 FCS Independent running players in rushing and scoring; the former led the squad with 558 yards while reaching the end zone on eight occasions, the latter 491 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns in 2011. And when both were lost due to injury, Perry was able to help true freshman J.J. Keels post 329 all-purpose yards while contributing to the running game as well as on kick and punt returns.
Five South Alabama running backs gained at least 100 yards in the program's inaugural season in the fall of 2009, with the group accounting for almost 80 percent of USA's 267 yards per game on the ground. Brandon Ross led the group with 594 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Santuan McGee rushed for 350 yards and three scores to help the Jaguars average better than six yards per carry.
His efforts helped the Jags excel on special teams play too. Garber averaged 42 yards per punt with nine of 22 kicks downed inside the opposition's 20-yard line, and Erling Riis averaged just under 13 yards per punt return. The kick return unit gained nearly 30 yards per runback, while USA allowed opponents to average only 17 yards per kickoff return. Jaguar kickers combined to make 5-of-6 field-goal attempts while converting 40 extra points, with Chapuseaux ending the season second on the team in scoring with 46 points.
Despite losing Ross to a season-ending injury midway through the 2010 campaign, Perry's group still managed to contribute to an attack that averaged more than 230 yards per game rushing and nearly 440 overall. Highlighted by a school-record 891 yards from Houston, the Jags' top four rushers all gained at least 200 yards in the fall as eight running backs combined to collect totals of 1,923 yards (82.7 percent of the team's overall total) and 25 scores. The unit also contributed to the passing attack, led by T.J. Glover's 14 receptions -- which tied for fourth on the team -- for 155 yards.
Behind the efforts of Glover and Jones, USA's punt returners increased the team's average from 8.8 yards to 16 per run back, while Jaguar placekickers combined to go 17-of-23 on field-goal attempts one year after making only four in seven outings; that including helping Lawson McGlon kick a school-record four field goals on two different occasions. The Jags also averaged almost 23 yards per kick return and more than 39 yards per punt, as Garber had 16 of 34 kicks end up inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
Perry spent three seasons with Alabama working as a graduate assistant then as an intern under Nick Saban and Mike Shula. The Crimson Tide went undefeated in the regular season in the fall of 2008, advancing to the Southeastern Conference championship game as well as the Allstate Sugar Bowl. After posting a 12-2 record, the team was ranked sixth in both the final Associated Press and USA Today top-25 polls.
Alabama finished 7-6 the previous season, defeating Colorado 30-24 in the PetroSun Independence Bowl, while the Crimson Tide participated in the same postseason contest his first year as part of the program.
Perry began his coaching career as an assistant strength & conditioning coach at Texas in 2004, also serving as an academic advisor for the Longhorns. He became a linebacker and strength coach at Texas A&M-Commerce later that year, moving over to coach running backs and handle kickoff return duties in 2005 for the Lions. Three of his backs earned all-Lone Star Conference honors that year, including one who was named the Offensive Back of the Year after rushing for more than 1,000 yards in 10 games.
Perry has additional experience coaching at the professional level after working as a special teams assistant and head strength coach for NFL Europe's Amsterdam Admirals in 2006. That spring the team posted a 7-3 mark and competed in the World Bowl.
A 2003 graduate of Texas A&M with a degree in English and history, Perry played two seasons -- lettering in 2003 -- for the Aggies as a fullback, inside linebacker and defensive end while also participating on special teams. He was one of four players on the team who served as the program's 12th man as a senior. He began his career as an inside linebacker at Tyler [Texas] Junior College.
Perry, who earned his master's degree in health & human performance from Texas A&M-Commerce 2005, is married to the former Angela Painter. The couple has two daughters, Joanna Rose and Jude. Perry is the grandson of 1957 Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow.