Every prospect wants to post eye-popping numbers at this weekend's NFL Combine, but Joshua Perry will arrive in Indianapolis with extra motivation.
The linebacker from Ohio State plans to participate in the Eagle Fund Challenge, a unique competition that raises money to support active duty wounded or injured members of the armed forces Special Operations community.
A projected second-round pick, Perry trained for the Combine at EXOS in Gulf Breeze, Florida. Besides training athletes, EXOS also rehabilitates Special Operations service members who've been injured in action. Just as it does for NFL prospects training for the Combine, EXOS provides the service members with performance training, nutritional support and physical therapy through the EXOS Comeback Initiative.
NFL prospects like Perry had opportunities to see the soldiers train and to build relationships with them. "To be here and watch the people from that community train and to talk to them and listen to some of their stories, it was really inspirational. It really put things in perspective about how our lives are kind of similar but also very different. It brought a lot of respect out," Perry says.
After getting to know some of the Special Operations members training at EXOS, Perry jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Eagle Fund Challenge.
Here's how it works: people who want to donate can pledge a specific dollar amount for every inch Perry leaps in the Vertical Jump at the Combine. The higher Perry jumps, the more money gets donated to the Eagle Fund. Perry is competing against Malcolm Mitchell, a receiver from the University of Georgia, to see who can raise the most money.
"I'm just glad that I got the opportunity to do something like this. I'm just trying to see how many people will pledge, and I'm trying to get people to pledge as sort of like a Big Ten vs. SEC-type thing," Perry says. "[Malcolm] is a great athlete, he's pretty explosive, and I'm explosive too. So who knows what will happen, but if I can get people to pledge, it will be a good competition."
Along with Perry and Mitchell, Alabama offensive lineman Ryan Kelley, Auburn offensive lineman Shon Coleman and Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves will also be competing for charity at the Combine. You can donate here: