Hite's OU 11: No. 7 Samaje Perine

Better depth, changing offense take weight of running back's shoulders

During the next two weeks, Sooners Illustrated will rank Oklahoma’s players.

While Sooners Illustrated publisher Bob Przybylo will breakdown the best Sooners, we are talking about the most important players here – based on the opinion of Sooners Illustrated writer Justin Hite.

There will definitely be some crossover between the two lists, but this list in particular is based on who Oklahoma needs to be at the top of their game this season.

Let’s keep it rolling.

7. Samaje Perine

It’s safe to say that Perine is much higher on this list than he will be on Bob’s – counting down the best 11 Sooners.

Oklahoma will need every player from this point and beyond to be at their very best. When you’re the bell cow of an impressive stable of running backs – that some have called the best in the country – then there isn’t nearly the same need for Perine to be great.

He won’t nearly have to match his carries or yards from last season, but Oklahoma will need him to come through on occasion – goal-line and short-yardage situations.

The change in offense obviously takes a lot of the importance off Perine, who would have been the No. 1 player by far if the Sooners were still running the read option.

“It’s just going to give us the chance to make bigger plays with fewer touches,” said Perine, who has been improving his receiving ability since the end of last season.

Just to re-hash: Perine finished last season with 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns. Both ranked eighth in the country. He also set an FBS record with 427 yards against Kansas. He averaged an absurd 6.5 yards per carry over 263 carries.

Really good.

Oklahoma doesn’t need those numbers again. It’s just a fact. Perine isn’t as important as he was last year. The stable of running backs behind him is better. The offense is not as reliant on one specific set of skills.

His skills are all-encompassing, but the Sooners won’t need all of them all the time. He can have a break.

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