Ulu-Perry Has Sights Set On UCLA

Just to remove any confusion, Fred Ulu-Perry, the state’s third highest-rated college football prospect, believes offensive linemen are smarter than their defensive counterparts. The playful comment comes with a big laugh and a wave of the hand, signifying the Saint Louis offensive lineman is just kidding. Some of his best friends play defense.

Getting the high school senior to discuss his accomplishments is not easy. Naturally quiet and shy, Ulu-Perry is visibly uncomfortable when the subject turns to himself. Ask him about a common description of his playing style, that he is nasty, and his direct gaze suddenly turns toward the floor.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he says quietly. “You’ll have to watch the tape yourself.”

The tapes confirm the reviews. Ulu-Perry is a talented and tough offensive lineman who, because of his height, will move from guard to center when he joins UCLA next year. He chose the school largely on the strength of position coach and former UH offensive lineman Adrian Klemm.

“We have a connection. It’s like a brothers’ connection. I feel we have a big Hawaii connection and it’s obvious when we speak to each other.”

While Hawaii produces a large number of college and NFL prospects, the state’s isolation still makes it difficult for young student-athletes to get noticed. Development camps are expensive, and getting to the right ones is a challenge. For the Ulu-Perry family, that means parents, grandparents and cousins all chipping in. That sacrifice pushes the Salt Lake resident to be at his best when the opportunities come.

“That’s why I have to try so hard at those camps,” he says. “I don’t want to waste any money. I don’t want to let down my parents and grandparents.”

Last year he was named MVP of Los Angeles Nike Training Camp.

Among his supporters, none is more influential or more involved than his grandfather Brian Perry. Brian Perry picks up his grandson each day from school, breaks down game performance with him and is the first to know when his grandson is mentioned in the national press or his prospect ranking changes. The elder Perry uses Google Alerts to make sure he is kept up on all the news involving his grandson. It’s a very close and special relationship.

“He and I have been best friends since I was little,” says Ulu-Perry. “He is my backbone. He knows the answers to everything, and he always guides me along the right path.”

Ulu-Perry verbally committed to UCLA this summer, but the recruiting continues. Until he signs an official letter of intent, which he cannot do until Feb. 5 of his senior year, he is free to change his mind. That’s what a number of schools are hoping for. But he remains committed to UCLA, even though the school is putting an emphasis on recruiting offensive linemen.

“My plan is to outwork them and get that starting position,” says the 6-foot-2, 290-pound lineman. “It’s just fun pancaking guys.”