"Ronnie Perkins is the most dominant defensive player in the state (of Missouri). There's no question about that, and it's been that way for a while."
Those emphatic words were spoken by St. Louis (Mo.) Lutheran North headman Carl Reed. It’s not uncommon for coaches to exaggerate a bit when asked to break down just how good his star player is, but in this instance it’s clear that Reed’s assessment isn’t just born of bias. Perkins’ 47 offers to date are proof positive of that. Reed compares his 6-4, 255-pounder to a high school version of former Buffalo Bills All Pro and Hall of Famer Bruce Smith. Like Smith, Jenkins can beat offensive linemen off the edge with power or speed. While many suitors covet him for those skills, some such as Michigan are recruiting him to play inside also.
Not a problem according to Reed.
"What makes Ronnie so special is he can play inside and outside,” he said. “He's an elite pass rusher off the edge, an elite pass rusher on the inside, and he can play against the run. No other defensive linemen in this region or this part of the country has the total skill set to play inside or out and he can do that in the 40 or the 30 front."
"He's just trying to win, so wherever you need to put him is his preference."
Coaches covet that type of attitude too, but a few weeks ago Perkins announced only 12 programs still have a chance to bring it into their respective locker rooms. Late last month Michigan, Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa State, Texas, USC, LSU, Nebraska, TCU, and Iowa were revealed as the last schools standing.
In the case of Michigan, Perkins hasn’t visited Ann Arbor yet so the Wolverines are one of the suitors with whom he is the least familiar. There are, however, a couple things helping them bridge the familiarity gap. One is that Michigan is currently among his fiercest pursuers. The other is Reed.
"I grew up in Detroit,” said Reed. “My whole family lives in Detroit still, so I'm very familiar with Michigan. And from a national standpoint you've got to give Harbaugh a chance, don't you?”
Harbaugh’s presence has carried unquestionable weight with Perkins.
Said Reed, “with Harbaugh being there, and if you have aspirations of playing in the NFL, that's something you have to consider."
That is just one of many factors that Perkins will evaluate before selecting a school.
"No. 1 is going to be a defensive line coach and who he feels best prepares guys to play in the national football league, which is his No. 1 goal,” Reed explained. “And also, he wants to play at a program where you can compete for national titles. At the end of the day I think those things are going to play out. He wants to play at the highest level so you're looking for a program that can get you there."
Visits will obviously play a pivotal role in helping him determine the best fit, which is why he plans to make his way to a number of campuses over the next few months. More will follow during the season so he can get his decision out of the way well before the first Wednesday in February.
We're going to get to Michigan this summer, Oklahoma, Texas and LSU this summer so we'll be making our rounds,” said Reed. “Distance won’t be a factor in his decision.”
"We're not waiting to signing day (to commit). We've never believed in that, that's not good business, but he will take his visits throughout the season and he'll make a decision as soon as he's gotten to see everybody he wants to see."
Stay tuned to The Michigan Insider for more on Perkins in the weeks and months to come.