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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 03 2013

NDSU football's Perry says knee is ready to go

FARGO – The last time the North Dakota State football world saw Leevon Perry on the field was last November when he was being helped off the field. A knee injury ended his season, and there was some question if it would end his career.

It hasn’t been a smooth last 10 months for the senior defensive tackle. He had scope and microfracture surgery to his knee and also had surgery to repair ligament damage in his wrist.

He missed the team’s 24-21 win at Kansas State last Friday because of a team-issued one-game suspension, the result of pleading guilty to DUI.

“You live and learn,” Perry said. “My knee is back now.”

It’s 100 percent, he said, although he hasn’t had full football contact since the injury in the South Dakota State game at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. The injury came on a running play when Perry took a low block.

Asked if he’s been able to let that play go, Perry said, “After we play them, yeah. I’ll be alright after that.”

The 6-foot-4, 282-pound senior has started 39 games in his career, including all 14 his freshman year. Last week, NDSU was able to hold Kansas State to just 41 yards rushing despite not having one of its best run stoppers available in Perry.

“The encouraging thing is we were able to do that without Leevon,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl.

Perry watched the game with other NDSU students at the Memorial Union. Fans sitting in Bill Snyder Family Stadium in 98-degree heat weren’t the only ones feeling the warmth.

“It was intense,” Perry said of the Union atmosphere. “There were a lot more people there than I thought there would be – sweating and yelling at the TV. That last drive drove me insane with everybody jumping up and hugging each other. We have some really good fans.”

Those fans will see the Bison in person Saturday afternoon in the home opener at the Fargodome. The 4 p.m. kickoff against Ferris State (Mich.) will be Perry’s first chance to fully hit a player in a football uniform.

He said he was warned multiple times by coaches in practice on Monday to not hit anybody. One reason: The Bison scout team has only one quarterback and one running back.

“We’re in full pads today, so we’ll see what happens,” Perry said, before practice. “I still can’t hit the quarterback or running back, but those O-linemen are up for grabs.”

And through it all, Perry said he approaches his career with the advice that former Bison defensive tackle Matthew Gratzek gave him a few years ago.

“He told me when he was going through injuries, play every down like it’s your last down,” Perry said. “Nothing is for sure and you always have to have a backup plan. Football is a game, and you play it to have fun, and that’s how I intend to play.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia