Caleb Perez learned the value of walk-ons at Rutgers during a weekend official visit. After 24 hours to meet with his family and weigh options, the Scarlet Knights received his verbal commitment.
The Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) athlete projects to play linebacker at Rutgers, where he understands the need to earn playing time as a preferred walk-on.
“I feel ready,” Perez said. “I’m going to have to work hard for it. I know it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be hard, but everything worth having takes work. That’s what I’m going to do.”
Perez chose Rutgers over UCF and FCS scholarship opportunities at Marist and Valparaiso. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder met with defensive coordinator Joe Rossi and linebackers coach Bob Fraser during his visit to discuss his role on the defense.
Walk-on Darnell Davis Jr., was his host, and Perez plans to be ready for enrollment this summer.
“Why Rutgers? On this weekend and everything, it just felt like home,” Perez said. “The whole football team acts like a family. They stick together. Being on campus just felt like where I want to be the next four or five years.”
Perez informed recruiting coordinator Tariq Ahmad of his commitment, and said he has a conversation set with head coach Kyle Flood after school lets out.
Perez joins athlete JR Reese as a preferred walk-on commitment in the class of 2014.
“Playing for Rutgers is pretty big-time to begin with,” Perez said. “With the history around the school, and especially since they’re going to the Big Ten, I’m starting to think about it right now and I’m very excited.”
Rutgers has a history of walk-on success stories dating back to NFL names like Gary Brackett and Shaun O’Hara more than a decade ago. The Scarlet Knights started three former walk-ons in 2013 – running back Paul James, fullback Michael Burton and long snapper Robert Jones.