By John Philip Wyllie
Oceanside High product Jose Perez was once one of the most feared receivers in San Diego County. Torching Valley League defenses for 1,112 yards during his 2002 senior campaign, Perez was a major contributor to the Pirates CIF championship that season. In the spring of the following year he appeared headed for SDSU. There was only one problem. As good as he was on the gridiron, Perez was an even better baseball player. When the New York Yankees drafted him in the seventh round of 2003 MLB draft, Perez traded in his pads and helmet for a glove and a bat and pursued his dream of playing big league baseball for three years. Advancing as far as a Single A, Perez found that he could go no farther. So now, he is back to his original plan: pursuing an education and a football career at SDSU.
“I have no regrets at all (about initially choosing baseball over football). It was a positive experience and now I am more mature. I got to meet some awesome people out there. It was great out there and I had a lot of fun so I have no regrets at all.”
Being away from football since the 2002 season, Perez is naturally a little rusty. He will begin the season as a reserve receiver and contribute initially on the special teams.
“I need to get used to this offense and get myself back in football shape,” Perez said. “I’m starting to get there, but at this point I’m not sure where they are going to put me.”
The loss through injury to highly regarded Castle Park product, DeMarco Sampson, has opened up some opportunity within the Aztec receiving corps, but Perez is just one of the many talented receivers hoping to fill that void.
“I want to do whatever I can to help the team whether it is as a possession receiver, a deep threat or on special teams.”
After three years, getting reacquainted with a helmet and the heavy feeling of wearing shoulder and leg pads has been difficult for Perez, but things are starting to fall back into place.
“I’m feeling great right now. I am well-conditioned and I am close to being back into the football shape that I want to be in. Everybody has been helping me out.”
Like many of his teammates, Perez has been extremely impressed with the Aztecs new head coach, Chuck Long.
“He is a great coach. Experience-wise he has won a lot of championships and coached a lot of great teams. He was also and unbelievable quarterback in college. He brings to us a high level of ability and I think SDSU is going to move on to great things and win a lot of games. Everybody here thinks this is going to be a great season. (Eventually) I think he is going to bring San Diego a championship and I’m sure he is going to bring a lot of people out here to watch us.”
Perez and his Aztec teammates travel to Wisconsin on Saturday, September 16 for an ESPN televised game with an 11:30 a.m. kickoff. Then they return to the “Q” on the following Saturday to face Utah at 5:00 p.m. For information regarding tickets to this and all Aztec home games call (619) 283-SDSU.