IMG Academy preparing Perry for college


When Florida’s 2015 signees report to campus next month, most of them will need time to adjust to college life.

The atmosphere, demands and daily schedule for student-athletes at a powerhouse program can often times overwhelm incoming freshmen.

For Gators safety commit Spencer Perry, however, his move to UF in 2016 will be an easier transition than it is for most high school kids.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder attends IMG Academy, a private athletic training institute for youth, high school, collegiate and professional athletes in Bradenton. A native of Auburn, Alabama, Perry transferred there after his junior season.

“I’ve been doing football for the longest,” Perry said, “but IMG put me on the map.”

The academy fielded its high school football team in 2013, and now talented recruits from over a dozen different states leave their hometowns annually to attend what MaxPreps calls the “nation’s top high school football facility.”

IMG had 12 players sign with Division I programs in the last recruiting cycle. This year, the team has nine Rivals250 members on its roster, including six in the top 100 and four five-star prospects.

And that’s not including Perry and running back Tony Jones, a Notre Dame commit.

“Some of the best players in the country are at this school,” Perry said. “Going against the best every day, it only makes you a better player. Competition is always good. In many ways, the best competition we’re going to face is in practice. Iron sharpens iron.”

But the perks of IMG Academy extend past the football field. The makeup and day-to-day operations of the campus and facilities give Perry the experience of a college-like atmosphere.

“IMG is already like a college,” said Perry, who finished spring football with his team last week. “We have meetings and a schedule every day, and not like at a normal high school. It’s all about business here, but we’re doing what we love so it’s fun. And I’m definitely going to be prepared for college a lot better than other kids.”

Perry will be the first recruit from IMG Academy to attend Florida. He committed to the Gators two months ago during his visit to Gainesville.

“I was sold on the school, not just the football program,” Perry said. “The academics are strong. As far as athletically, they have some of the best coaches there. Their vision was big with me. They’re going to turn that place around.”

Since his pledge to UF, Perry has gained offers from Clemson, Ohio State and others. Auburn — his hometown school — is also after him hard and he attended the Tigers’ spring game.

“I’ll be open to other schools and check them out, but I’m committed to Florida,” he said. “It would take a variety of things to change my mind. Football alone isn’t going to change my opinion on a school. It’s about the academics, the environment, how my family feels about the place, and I’m strong on Florida.”

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