NFL and Ohio State linebacker. Team captain, two-time All-Big Ten athlete, national champion.
Licensed real estate agent, charity founder and CEO, radio co-host, Big Ten Network studio analyst.
Joshua Perry has held many titles in his lifetime, and these only scratch the surface. The 25-year-old is just getting started in his sports media career and he’s adjusting to the job only as Joshua Perry would.
“I’m so new and there’s so many things I don’t know about the job,” Perry said. “But, when I was playing football there were so many things I wanted to learn and that’s exactly what I did. I kept training and I kept practicing. I was able to get pretty good at it and hopefully that’s something I can do in media as well.”
While he hopes to excel in the sports media realm — and let’s face it, he will — he said he actually fell into the sports broadcasting world “accidentally.”
After two years in the NFL, Perry retired in July of 2018 after sustaining his sixth documented concussion. He didn’t want to put his future in jeopardy — a future that has proven to be full of opportunity.
“I always wanted to go into real estate after football and that’s exactly what I did,” Perry said. “Two weeks after I was hired, I was enrolled in real estate classes and then probably less than a month after that, I was licensed and ready to go.”
Then, Columbus’ sports radio station 97.1 The Fan invited him on their pregame tailgate show. After that, Spectrum Sports reached out about doing a Buckeye post game show — his first TV gig.
“I was like um... sure,” Perry Said. “Then it just took on a life of its own.”
In the summer of 2019, after appearing on a number of media platforms, the Big Ten Network called Perry in for an audition.
“I don’t believe that they actually wanted to hire me for multiple reasons,” Perry said. “First, they have a lot of former Ohio state guys on there and uh, you know, some of the viewers don’t love that. They think it gets a little bit biased.
“Number two, I’m a 25-year-old young cat who didn’t study broadcast journalism and hadn’t had a lot of media experience under his belt. But, they took a flier on me, and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity.”
Whether they wanted to or not, the Big Ten Network liked what they saw. This should come as a surprise to no one. A part from his athletic abilities — as a Buckeye, Perry recorded 296 total tackles and 7.5 sacks from 2012-15 — Perry is known for his intelligence, top-tier speaking skills, and his service to the community.
So, Perry’s name is added to the long list of “Ohio State guys” who are current analysts for various networks. He describes this group as a fraternity — they stay connected and help each other out. Two former Buckeyes he said have really helped him along the way are James Laurinaitis, who also works for BTN, and Joey Galloway, who works for ESPN. His biggest mentor, however, comes from a different part of his world.
“One person in my personal life who’s been extremely helpful for me is my old club track coach,” Perry said. “He was a broadcast journalism major, so he gives me a lot of tips and pointers, but I mean, the list is kind of endless. It’s just been good to be able to reach out to people and feel like they’re invested in my success.”
Speaking of people investing in his success, former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was hired by BTN around the same time as Perry. The former Ohio State head coach said if Perry were to run for president, he wouldn’t doubt him for a second.
“He’s what college football is all about,” Meyer described his linebacker during an interview with Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports. “He has an incredible ability to make someone’s day a little brighter, and he takes that very serious. A great young man.”
I asked Perry if he sees Meyer in the studio often. He laughed.
“Oh no, Urban got the cush job,” he said.
It turns out, Meyer is hardly ever in the Chicago-based Big Ten Network studio. The network will either fly him out to California, or they come to him in Columbus to shoot his segment called “Urban Analysis.”
“I talk to him and I talk to his wife, Shelly, quite a bit,” Perry said. “He really loves what he’s doing right now. I’m a football junkie. I feel like I know a lot about the game, but when I watch Urban Analysis, I still pick up something new every time I’m listening to Coach. So outside of coaching ball this is probably his second calling.”
Perry, on the other hand, is in the BTN studio every Friday and Saturday. During the week, he’s back in Columbus to co-host The NFL Hour on 97.1 The Fan on Tuesday nights and The Eleven Warriors Radio Hour on Wednesday nights.
“I’m way more comfortable on the radio,” Perry said. “Radio is a fun medium. You can be very expressional on there and a little bit edgier on a radio show. It’s an absolute joy to be able to do it.”
In between selling houses, his weekends in Chicago for BTN, and co-hosting multiple shows in Columbus during the week, Perry still has time for what’s truly most important to him: his charity.
He started the Joshua Perry Family Foundation in March of 2018 with his family and close family friends. Working primarily with kindergarten through eighth graders, their vision is to inspire the youth through empowerment, self-efficacy and education.
“We empower them by giving them the right tools and mechanisms,” Perry explained. “We want them feeling confident in their abilities. We share with these kids, we love on these kids, we spend time with them. We want to build a genuine connection.”
The non-profit organization has come up with some unique partnerships recently, Perry said, and he hopes that by next summer they’re able to be more inclusive in terms of geography and socioeconomic status.
“I’m excited about the trajectory of the foundation and some of the work that we get to do and I’m really proud to be doing it here in Columbus where I spent most of my life,” Perry said.
Perry grew up in Lewis Center, Ohio and attended Olentangy High School. In June, he hosted his second annual free youth football camp for about 230 children ages 7-13 at Olentangy Berlin High School with the goal of getting them outside and teaching them the basics of football.
As Perry said before, he’s a “football junkie.” He’s played it, he teaches it, analyzes it, learns from it. So, I didn’t feel bad asking him for his expert analysis on Ohio State’s season thus far.
“The thing that’s really surprising to me is how smooth Justin Fields has looked out there as the starting quarterback,” Perry said. “When I say that, I mean his patient standing in the pocket, his leadership and his command of the offense. He’s been able to hit down the field very accurately. He’s been able to make plays on the ground. I mean, for a guy who’s basically getting his first shot starting at a big time school, it’s very impressive what he’s done.”
Perry, an Ohio State defense alum, is just as surprised as the rest of us at this year’s defense. He said while he expected them to be head and shoulders better than last year, he wasn’t expecting it this early in the season.
“The fact of the matter is, they’re not giving up a lot of points and they’re not giving up a lot of yards,” he said. “They’re playing extremely fast. They’re creating big momentum plays where they’re taking the ball away.
He raved about the special teams unit as well, saying their blocked field goal and two blocked punts already this season shows that the team is buying into the little things that make teams great.
As impressed as he is with Ohio State’s early domination and their new quarterback, he agrees with head coach Ryan Day — Nebraska will show the Buckeye’s true colors.
“Adrian Martinez is one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten in terms of play-making ability,” Perry said. And one thing that aggressive defenses tend to struggle with is the quarterback run and their discipline, those mechanics in that protocol.”
His other Nebraska players to watch include wide receiver J.D. Speilman and wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, who he said will be confident against Ohio State. It’s Nebraska’s defense where he believes the Huskers fall short.
When I look at this Nebraska defense, although it’s better than it was a year ago, I just think we’ve got the guys, Perry said. “When you put their guy versus our guy, we’ve got the advantage. So it’s about the execution aspect and going out there and being dominant and showing that you really are the better team.”
And being the better team must start right out the gate (or tunnel, I guess). Perry said he wants to see Ohio State maintain control of the game from start to finish, because those safeties and field goals we saw from Miami and Indiana become touchdowns against better competition.
If they can accomplish this, Perry has Ohio State beating Nebraska in a three touchdown affair.
“We have more depth than those guys,” he said. “We’re in better shape than those guys. And then the talent really at the end of the day is where we shine too.
“Martinez is gonna try to tilt the ball a little bit. I don’t think they want him getting hit entirely too much cause I don’t know what their quarterback situation’s really like behind him. I think that all our weapons are on defense, our outside players on defense can cover their weapons on offense. So, it becomes one of those games where it might be a couple of close quarters, maybe three, before we’re able to pull away and make a pretty big statement now on a prime time atmosphere.”
Perry knows what it takes to win the tough games — he’s both a national and Big Ten champion, after all. Now that we’re approaching the fifth — and most challenging — game of the season, Perry has a message for all the guys playing their last season as a Buckeye.
“When you get to the end of the season, you get so antsy because you’re thinking about what comes next, or how did I make an impact, all that kind of stuff,” he said. “But, four or five games into the season, you gotta really, really enjoy it because you’re gonna get to a point where, whether you’re retired from football or whether you’re still playing in the NFL, there is nothing like playing college football on the stage that these guys get to do it on.
“And, I can tell you that from personal experience. Those were some of the best years of my life. I made my best friends in college. So, just being able to enjoy that moment, that instance, and then later on, toward the end of the season, those things you worry about will work themselves out.”
Things certainly worked themselves out for Perry. Since his time as a linebacker at Ohio State, he continues to make an impact on everyone he crosses paths with — the kids he empowers through his foundation, his clients looking for their future home, football fans tuning into 97.1 The Fan or the BTN, the list goes on.
If Perry runs for president, he has both mine and Meyer’s votes. But, I think he’s pretty happy where he’s at now.
“You know, you go to the bar on a Sunday and you watch the football game,” he said. “Everybody’s over there talking ball and what they see, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to talk ball on air and get a paycheck. So, um, it really doesn’t get much better than what I’m doing.”