Coach Mumme on Ray Perkins: "Versatile"

Training camp was always a chore for the players at South Eastern Louisiana. The weather was hot and sticky and the players had to get to practice via carpool. As the conditions wore on the players, Coach Hal Mumme found a way to lift their spirits. All he needed was a little Jimmy Buffet and a lot of Ray Perkins, coincidentally, a player that has caught the eye of Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer and was commended for his work during minicamp.

"Every time I wanted to ride with Ray because he made it so fun," recalled Mumme. "So we'd take him and two or three guys who were feeling blue that day, and Ray would sing along to this Jimmy Buffet album the whole way up there. By the time we got there everybody was laughing and in a good mood."

That's just who Ray Perkins is. He's a good guy with a level head and an oversized heart. Just as he has proven he can carry a heavy load on the field, he has likewise eased the burden of others off of it. He makes football fun for those around him, something which should not be underappreciated.

"He's a really bright guy who brings a lot to the table," Mumme said. "He's really good at dealing with people because he's very perceptive. He has a great feel for when to be funny and when to be serious. He's a great guy to be around."

In fact, Mumme considers it fortunate that Perkins ever came to play for SE Louisiana. They were just starting up the football program down there, and Mumme wanted to bring in some transfer players to provide his roster with some semblance of experience. Perkins was one such transfer, and boy did he exceed all expectations.

By his senior season, Perkins had made himself the focal point of the offense. That year he rushed for 1,148 yards and nine touchdowns, caught 40 passes for 360 more yards and three touchdowns, and even returned a kickoff for a score for good measure.

Perkins' role with the Chargers may be similarly diverse. Should he earn a spot on the roster, he will likely start his career working exclusively on special teams. If his play should merit an expanded role, he would then likely earn time in some third-down situations. That is where Mumme thinks he would fit best.

"His versatility is what sets him apart," attested Mumme. "I always saw him as being a really great third-down back in the NFL."

That, however, does not mean that Perkins cannot tote the rock. While it is always nice to diversify one's portfolio, Perkins is still a running back by trade. Make no mistake, he can run with the best of them. His vision and balance are superb and his agility is stellar as well.

"He had a lot of 100-yard games for us," said Mumme to those who have forgotten what Perkins is capable of doing when running between the hashes. "He can do whatever you need him to do, not just on offense but on special teams also."

The Chargers are seemingly loaded at the running back position, but injuries are inevitable and depth at the position invaluable. Also, on a less practical note, you just have to root for a guy like Perkins. A guy who can return kicks, catch passes and rip of big runs; and more importantly, a guy who can make his teammates laugh.

"If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane."

It wasn't Hal Mumme who said that, or even Ray Perkins. It was Jimmy Buffet.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at Lombardo@SanDiegoSports.net


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