FROSTBURG -- William Perry is a defensive tackle who has t watch his weight, and is known by all as the Refrigerator. He has a pleasant face and demeanor, but No. 72 has been known to dTC occupy an entire side of an offensive line.
No, the subject isn't the Chicago Bears' William Perry, who became a national cult hero as the result of his girth and occasional rushing attempts en route to victory in the 1986 Super Bowl. "Fridge" mania might have subsided in the NFL, but Frostburg State is wild about its own William Perry.
A junior from Aberdeen, Perry (5 feet 11, 240 pounds) is a three-year starter for the Bobcats (4-0), who last week were ranked No. 6 among the nation's Division III teams by one publication.
The Frostburg Fridge is a late bloomer who wasn't even playing football when Chicago's Perry made the most of a media blitz. He weighed 215 pounds as a freshman at Aberdeen, but Frostburg's Perry didn't play high school ball until two years later. Even before he was a teen, he had been turned off to the game.
"My family was living in Heidelberg, West Germany [his father is retired military], and I went out for a base team," Perry said. "I just didn't like the hitting, and I didn't know how to deal with my asthma then. Besides, I was a baseball player."
Aberdeen coach Macon Tucker finally got Perry out for football. The Eagles' star in 1987 was Darren Colvin, now a Maryland running back, but Perry went both ways and was a Harford County All-Star offensive lineman. Not many colleges show interest in a 5-11 down lineman, so Perry listened when Frostburg State made a pitch.
Perry heard some calls of "Fridge" when he was in high school, but it wasn't until he went to Frostburg that he took on the new name.
"When we were winning a high school game big, some guys would tell Coach Tucker to let me run the ball," Perry said. "I've had people ask me if he [Chicago's Perry] is my cousin, or my brother. My brother? We've got the same name. I don't mind at all. Up here, I answer to Fridge. The coaches only call me William when they get mad at me."
Frostburg State coach Dennis Riccio's only complaint came when Perry reported to August camp at 244 pounds. He finished last season weighing 235.
"He's one of the few kids we've ever had who put down a 40-yard -- time slower than he's capable," Riccio said. "On his recruiting report, he put down 4.9, and his first year he did a 4.73. He's faster than he looks. Fridge has incredible grip strength; once he grabs onto you, it's over. Plus, he comes off a block and goes forward. Most linemen fall back."
In the Bobcats' defensive scheme, the linebackers rack up the statistics and accolades. The three-man front of nose guard Tony Hooker, Perry and the other tackle, Calvert Hall product Mike Colletta, are charged with occupying the other line. All did the job last year to the extent that Frostburg State led the nation in several defensive categories, including total yardage allowed.
The defense has allowed two touchdowns in four games thus far. Seven of the starters are from the metropolitan area, and it would be eight had not linebacker Keith Kierzkowski (Atholton) suffered a knee injury in the opener.
Frostburg State is absent from the South Region rankings because of a mix-up in mailing compliance forms to the NCAA, but the Bobcats figure to be mentioned once that matter is settled. They could make the Division III tournament for the first time, which would give Perry a bigger audience, albeit one not quite as large as the better-known Fridge.
Plenty of name players here
Defensive tackle William Perry isn't the only Frostburg State football player who gets the name's-the-same treatment.
The Bobcats' second-leading rusher and top punt returner is Jimmy Carter, a sophomore from Alexandria, Va. Carter isn't of voting age yet, and said he's undecided as to his future political affiliation. Teammate Mark Price, however, noting Carter's hometown, said, "You're rich, so you must be a Republican."
A sophomore starter at linebacker and the team's third-leading tackler is Howard Hughes, who went to Friendly High in Prince George's County. He doesn't plan a career in aviation or film-making, but he does enjoy air travel.