Richards, Perkins Pick Wheeling Jesuit
Former Big Reds Dylan Richards and Gavin Perkins will be part of the building of a program at WJU. The Cardinals are part of the new NCAA Division II program which will be part of the Mountain East Conference.
They held their signing ceremonies recently with their families, friends and PHS coach Mike Byus on hand.
Tight end Richards and defensive end Perkins each cited having the opportunity to help build a program as one of the reasons they opted to sign with WJU.
Richards, a three-year high school letterman who was expected to play tight end, but wound up making nine starts as an undersized left guard at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds.
Perkins originally started at PHS, but then transferred across the river to Parkersburg South, where he played his junior year before coming back to the red and white this past season to compete for first-year head coach Mike Byus.
“He’s a big kid,” Byus said of the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Perkins, who had two sacks and finished tied for sixth on the team with 45 total stops. “He’s going to keep developing with his quickness and his agility. He’s got the size and strength already.”
Expected to continue his education on an engineering path or in business, Perkins is more than happy to have the chance to continue playing the game he loves.
“It was a roller coaster. It was crazy,” Perkins said of his high school experience, which included being at South as a junior when the Patriots beat the Big Reds in double overtime and then playing for PHS and knocking off South to secure a 7-3 regular-season and a home playoff game this past fall.
Richards said he expects to major in pre-veterinary medicine and coach Byus feels he’ll be a solid fit for the Cardinals.
“He’s a great kid and understands everything you are trying to do,” Byus said. “He’s very effective because he’s always in the right spots.
“We had to convert him from tight end to the offensive line because we didn’t have enough people there. He was unselfish about that and didn’t complain about it. He moved in there and did everything he could do to help us out.”
Richards, who is looking forward to moving back to his old tight end position, said “I thought I played pretty well for being so undersized. I was usually outmatched 100 pounds every game. I went most of the season not really having to catch footballs.
“It’s going to be a lot of offseason work leading in and going up there. There are a lot of aspects you have to work on. Tight end is one of the most specific positions in that you have to do more.”
Like Perkins, Richards understands he’ll need to get faster and stronger and admitted “I think I have a pretty good football IQ. It’s really been a dream of mine since I was a kid to play college football. I like the facilities and it’s just a unique opportunity.”