OU Countdown: Samaje Perine

One of the country's best running back plays for the Sooners

During the next two months leading up to the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas, Sooners Illustrated will breakdown the Oklahoma Sooners’ roster, starting with Dominique Alexander (No. 1 on the roster) and working all the way down to Dwayne Orso (No. 99) and the incoming freshmen.

We’ll look at last year’s performance, the best-case scenario for this season – without projecting injuries – and what each player means to the short-term or long-term success of the Sooners.

No. 32 – RB Samaje Perine (5-foot-11, 237 pounds)

263 carries, 1,713 yards, 21 touchdowns, 6.5-per carry average

What happened last year: It’s been said once, and it’ll be said again. Perine went from fourth on the depth chart in July to a second-team All-American, a Freshman All-American and the National Freshman Offensive Player of the Year by Scout. Oh yeah, he’s also the FBS single-game rushing record holder. Looking back at all the stories of his summer workouts, being mistaken for another player’s father and his almost mythical lifting numbers, it seems like the stories weren’t all that wrong.

Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 10. In Oklahoma’s offense, it is very easily argued that there might not be a more valuable player that Perine, who showed last year that he could carry the load of even a run-heavy offense. He finished with almost half of Oklahoma’s total carries and almost two-thirds of the running back carries. He might have to do so again as there is even less experience behind him this year than last year. More than anything else though, Perine is the ultimate safety net – a player capable of averaging 6.5 yards per carry despite carrying the ball more than all but 16 other players: All of this in his first season as a collegian.

Best-case scenario for this season: Imagine it. The Sooners’ go to a pass-friendly offense, and Perine replicates his numbers from last season. Something would have had to slow the rest of the Oklahoma running backs. Betting against Perine hasn’t won too much money yet during his college career, so starting now isn’t necessarily a good idea. There is no doubt that new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley understands the weapon he has in the backfield. Perine’s total from last year nearly eclipsed East Carolina’s total yardage in two of the past three years. Perine finishes the season with more than 1,000 yards and possibly 15 touchdowns when all is said and done, though. It’s not the number of yards he gains this season but the importance of those yards that makes the difference.

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