Kyle Perry has never been afraid to dive headfirst into his role.
Whether that meant staring down the No. 1 team in the country in a win-or-go-home game this June or hopping out of the dugout to chase down foul balls most of the season, Perry was quick and eager to do his job.
"Whatever it takes," Perry said earlier this week as Nebraska began fall practice for the 2022 season. "Honestly, that's a big quote with this team, whatever it takes, and I really embody that and try to take it into each day of practice, game, whatever it may be."
That Perry was even speaking to the media at fall practice was a departure from the previous couple of years, which have been full of rehab from various ailments.
There's still a bit of that. Perry, a senior out of Millard South, is a little more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery on his left (pitching) elbow. He's still ramping back up after getting in limited work at the end of the 2021 season.
He's been shut down since June 6, when he started and worked into the fifth inning of Nebraska's 5-3 win over No. 1 Arkansas at the Fayetteville Regional — a tough, gritty performance Nebraska needed if it wanted to keep its season alive.
But he's a part of fall ball again, for the first time since 2018, and ready to move into a larger role as one of Nebraska's leaders as the Huskers begin to retool after losing all four of their captains — Mojo Hagge, Spencer Schwellenbach, Jaxon Hallmark, and Joe Acker — from last season.
"You see what he provided us at the end of last year. And what provided us the entire year, honestly. Just being there, supporting his teammates," NU coach Will Bolt said. "I think he’s going to take on even more of a leadership role this year too. So to have him back — a couple guys that I think had a chance to go on and play professional baseball, him being one of them, that decided, ‘Hey, I need to come back and we have unfinished business.'"
Perry's business last fall involved serving as the umpire for Nebraska's Red-White Series. Working behind second base, he had no issues issuing an emphatic strike three call during one of the matchups in an empty Haymarket Park, generating an agitated response from the victim of the punchout.
That's just part of Perry's personality — outgoing, vocal, unafraid to do what he feels is best in the moment.
"Regardless of what I'm doing, if I'm able to pitch or if I'm just a dugout guy, I just try to lift my teammates up as much as I can," Perry said, "And just try to be a great piece to the team, and help out everyone the best way I can."
Perry will be in the mix for a starting role come spring as NU must replace its entire weekend rotation. The Huskers figure to have multiple viable candidates for those roles, including a couple of transfers and several intriguing young players.
But none will be able to match Perry's experience — and love for his program. That's why Perry isn't shy about talking in-depth on NU's goal of getting back to the College World Series, and why he's not worried as Nebraska looks for a new set of leaders to back up last season's breakthrough run.
"They did a great job of helping build this culture we have instilled in this program. Yeah, it was tough to lose them, but I think everybody’s on board with some of the things they came in and put into this program, and we’re carrying that sort of legacy on for them," Perry said of last season's leaders. "We’re going to miss them, but we’re not going to miss them come springtime, you know what I mean? So, we’ll be all right."
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