|Gigantic Jerrys excel at Ole Miss - with assist from mom|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 18 October 2007 00:44|
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -There was no time for football when Mississippi's wide-bodied brothers Peria and John Jerry were growing up.|
Their father said there were horses and goats to feed, hay to bring in from the fields. The barnyard needed cleaning and eggs don't gather themselves. That's when their mother stepped in and changed the direction of their lives forever.
``Everything that they had to do, I did it,'' Onethia Jerry said. ``Their daddy, he worked late nights, so when he would come home he would check that they did everything they were supposed to do. So while I was cutting the grass, I would go in and out of the house cooking. He didn't never miss a meal.''
And the Jerry brothers never missed a chance to hit the football field, transforming from ``wild boys'' with limitless energy into athletic and graceful men thought to be large even on a football field.
It was as if their mother had unleashed them, and they haven't stopped making plays since.
``I did that for years. As long as they played football in junior high he never knew,'' Onethia Jerry said of the boys' father, Wayne Wright. ``But once they got in high school, their names were always on the radio. He never went, but he always listened on the radio.''
He missed quite a sight. The brothers helped start South Panola High School in Batesville, ranked seventh in the nation, on its current 67-game win streak before signing with Ole Miss. They were the jewels of Ed Orgeron's first recruiting classes and are excelling as the Rebels prepare to host Arkansas on Saturday.
``Peria is a very passionate, very strong, fast, agile and quick defensive lineman,'' Orgeron said. ``I do not think I have ever had an offensive lineman as athletic as John Jerry. Those guys mean a lot to our program. It means a lot for them to be at Ole Miss.''
Peria Jerry is the little guy, born weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces. He's now a 6-foot-2, 310-pound junior defensive tackle just fulfilling his promise after two years of nagging injuries that kept him tantalizing close to the field, but not on it often enough.
``I felt like I did everything I could do to help the seniors have a better year,'' he said of losing much of last year to a foot injury. ``But it was just something I've had to fight through.''
He showed he's healed and ready to play against Georgia with nine tackles, including three for loss.
John Jerry, called J.R. by his mother, is the baby of the family, but its largest member by far. He came into the world at 9 pounds, 12 ounces and still seems to be growing at 6-5 and 340 pounds. The guard led the team last season with 26 pancake blocks as a freshman and Orgeron believes he has an unlimited future.
Occasionally, they line up against each other in practice.
``Me and him are just alike,'' John Jerry said. ``We're very competitive. I'll be sick if I lose to him and he'll be sick if he loses to me.''
John Jerry said his brother is his best friend. They spent their childhood working with animals, Onethia Jerry said, and have the 4-H trophies to prove it. They built their great strength tossing hay bales and chasing pigs through the yard before wrestling them into the mud.
``They used to ride horses, show horses, break horses,'' Onethia Jerry said. ``They'd get hurt, thrown into barb wire and they'd sit there and laugh. They thought it was fun.''
Until they got to the hospital.
``A lot of people think they're twins,'' she said. ``One time J.R. had cut his wrist and we had to take him to the hospital. And while they were shooting the needle all around his arm, Peria was crying. Then when Peria got his leg cut, I took him to the hospital and J.R. was crying.''
When they weren't doing their chores, they were in the road playing football with their cousins, imagining themselves on the field in Oxford, scoring touchdowns and making tackles. Their extended family includes current Rebels Jamarca Sanford and Chris Strong and former NFL players Dwayne Rudd and Eddie Strong.
When they entered organized football in middle school they were quick to show they would be following in the family's athletic tradition. Especially as they continued to grow.
``A lot of times they wouldn't clean their room up or something,'' Onethia Jerry said. ``I'd stand up on the table and tell them to come on because I'm going to look at you eye to eye.''
The Jerry brothers soon will have to learn what it's like to be apart. Orgeron has helped coach some of the NFL's most talented linemen while an assistant at Southern Cal and Miami, and believes both will have a great future as pros.
The brothers got a scare last year when their mother contracted meningitis. At one point she couldn't lift her head and there was concern she might die. When she recovered, John told her the hard work in her life would soon be over.
``He told me, 'Mom, you give me two or three more years, you're going to sit down,''' Onethia Jerry said. ``When they were little, Peria would tell me, 'When I get big, I'm going to buy you 10 pairs of shoes. And JR said, 'I'm going to get you 10 pair, too.' I said, 'I'll never have cold feet then.'''
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