Bob Przybylo/Scout

OU's Samaje Perine sole focus is Sugar Bowl, not if he'll enter NFL Draft

OU running back Samaje Perine is only focused on Sugar Bowl. Time for NFL Draft talk will come later.

NEW ORLEANS – Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine declined to answer whether he will leave OU early to enter the NFL Draft when addressing the media Friday morning.

Perine, who is 83 yards away from becoming OU’s all-time leading rusher, said his focus is purely on the Allstate Sugar Bowl when OU plays Auburn on Monday evening.

Thought about it a little bit, but that’s not my main focus here,” Perine said. “I’m focused on the game, trying to get ready for these boys and just doing whatever I have to do.”

Perine is one of two OU running backs with the potential to leave Norman for the NFL. Redshirt sophomore Joe Mixon said essentially the same thing when addressing the media last week by saying he’s not worried about the NFL at this moment.

Friday was the first time Perine has spoken to the media since OU’s 38-20 win against Oklahoma State to clinch its 10th Big 12 championship.

His focus isn’t NFL, but it’s definitely on finishing this season as strong as possible for the Sooners. In recent weeks, fellow top running back prospects Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette have opted to skip their respective bowl game to focus on getting ready for the next level.

That never entered the mind of Perine.

“No, not at all,” he said. “The best decision for me and the running backs on this team is to play in every game that we can.”

Perine didn’t criticize their decision, saying there’s no way he could possibly speak on their behalf.

It has been another injury-plagued season for Perine, who has yet to go through an entire year in Norman not banged up. This time around it was a pulled muscle in his leg that made him miss nearly four games.

Thought to be a shoo-in for the record when the season began, Perine enters Monday evening’s contest fifth in OU history but could be No. 1 by night’s end.

For anybody who knows Perine, though, that’s clearly not on his mind, either.

“No, that’s just, another milestone that I don’t really, not to say I don’t care for, but it’s not at the forefront of my mind,” Perine said.

Perine has rushed for 974 yards on 179 attempts with 11 touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

Head coach Bob Stoops has said in the past he understands if Perine decides to leave. He’s not against it if it makes sense. His message, as always, is about maximizing his value, whatever will help out best in the long run.

I have plenty of other things to think about other than that,” Perine said. “I took it (Stoops’ speech) and he told me just don’t really think about it. He was going to give it to me now so I wouldn’t have to think about it later.

“I respect that. You just can’t think about that right now. There’s plenty of other things to think about.”

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