East St. Louis senior quarterback Christian Perez has given a verbal commitment to attend and play football at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., starting in the 2018 season.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Perez, who was raised in a military family, announced his decision Monday on Twitter, choosing the Midshipmen over several other schools, including Indiana State, Jackson State and Missouri State.
Perez also made unofficial visits to Iowa and Miami (Fla.).
“It was a tough decision but one that I’m very comfortable about in choosing Navy,” Perez said in a telephone interview. “My parents were both in the Air Force, and I know that I’ll get a great education, which is very important to me. And when I graduate, I will have a job.”
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Under the guidance of head coach Ken Niumatalolo, the Midshipmen have gone 77-42 in 10 seasons. Last season, Niumatalolo led his team to its first outright division title, as the Mids went 7-1 in the American Athletic Conference and won the West division. Navy finished 9-5 in 2016, losing to Louisiana Tech 48-45 in the Armed Forces Bowl.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” said Perez, who was recruited as a quarterback. “Navy is actually the first school which recruited me, as I started getting letters from them when I was in the eighth grade. That was a long time ago, and the coaches have continued to stay in contact. They showed a lot of interest in me. I appreciated that a great deal. I know I’ve got to continue to work hard and improve. It’s a matter of learning about the college game.”
The 2017 season will be the first in an East St. Louis uniform for Perez, who transferred from O’Fallon. The Panthers starting quarterback the past two years, Perez threw for over 2,400 yards and had 25 touchdown passes. During the 2016 season, Perez completed 114 of 234 attempts for 1,781 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Perez is expected to help fill the quarterback void at East St. Louis left by the graduation of Reyondous Estes, who will be a member of the University of Minnesota football team this season. East St. Louis is the defending Class 7A state champion.
Perez said the transition from O’Fallon to East St. Louis has gone well.
“The people of East St. Louis have welcomed me as one of the family,” Perez said. “I’m glad to have the decision made, and I’m looking forward to this season.”