There were few people happier to see offensive lineman Joseph Stone commit to Arkansas than his offensive line coach and former Hog Caleb Perry.
Stone, 6-8, 340 pounds, of Hewitt-Trussville High School in Alabama, chose the Hogs over scholarship offers from Purdue, Louisville, Florida Atlantic, Mercer and Middle Tennessee State on April 15 during his three-day official visit.
Perry, who played for former Razorback coach Houston Nutt from 1999-2003, knew there was a good chance Stone would pledge to the Hogs during his visit.
“Surprisingly, I was little bit anxious because I knew there was a chance he might commit,” Perry said. “I just wanted it to work out, but of course at the end of the day, Joseph has to make his own decision.”
He quoted Stone’s commitment announcement on Twitter and voiced his excitement of being able to coach a future Razorback.
“When you put five years of your life into a program you’re forever a representative and some ways an advocate for that program,” Perry said. “I don’t coach SEC guys all the time anyways. I have two SEC linemen right, now which is awesome. I might have a third one that’s a younger guy. For one of those linemen to actually pick my alma mater …I’m not going to say I actually cried about it, but it made me very proud. It made me very proud.”
Perry met his wife, Blaire, a standout softball player, at Arkansas, and they married after the LSU game in 2003.
“I’ve obviously been a fan of the Razorbacks and now to be able to watch one of my own players, an offensive lineman, go play some of the same positions I played, it’s a big deal," he said.
Former Shiloh Christian Coach Josh Floyd was hired at Hewiit-Trussville in 2014 and Perry, who coached six seasons with Floyd at Shiloh Christian before moving on to a private school in Atlanta, was reunited with Floyd there.
Perry, who also serves as the offensive coordinator and strength coach, calls Stone a "physical specimen."
“He is massive,” Perry said. “He’s not a big fat guy. He’s a legitimate heavy-bodied person, and he moves well and runs well.”
A part of conditioning at Hewiit-Trussville includes running 14 sprints at 100 yards under 18 seconds with 40 seconds of rest in between sprints.
“It’s just impressive to watch a guy at 6-8, 355 or 360 run those and kind of glide across the finish line in making them in 17 seconds every time,” Perry said. “Because guys that big aren’t supposed to move like that.”
Stone’s strength, size and mobility are a mismatch for opponents.
“He does things on the field, I don’t see many people do as far as being able to drive people backward,” Perry said. “When he locks onto a defender, it’s game over.”
Because of his size, Stone has earned nicknames of Big Country and Stone Mountain. Perry urges Stone to take it easy on his teammates.
“I tell him to be careful with his teammates in practice because if he falls on somebody he’s going to put them out of commission,” Perry said.
Stone has the capability to play beyond college, said Perry.
“If he commits to the weight room and works the way he should work, to me he’s an NFL football player because he is that big and that mobile,” Perry said.