ROUND ROCK, Texas -- For Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson running back Samaje Perine, the talent hasn't been in question since the Oklahoma commit ran for nearly 1,500 yards as a sophomore while teaming with current Texas all-purpose back Daje Johnson. It's been about his recovery from an ACL/MCL injury in the playoffs in 2011.
The primary reason 247Sports still has him as the highest three-star prospect imaginable at a grade of 89, Perine said on Saturday at the Round Rock SQT that he "felt like himself" as a junior by the third game against Vandegrift, but he admitted he wasn't fully healthy for the whole of the season, less than a year from the injury.
The trademark spin move was still there and he didn't have any problem gaining yards after averaging 8.5 yards per carry and racking up nearly 2,000 on the season. The 5'10, 233-pounder reported a 40 time of 4.53 in the spring, a number that would reflect a complete recovery.
He's focused on training his lower body to maintain weight going into college -- squats, leg lifts, heels. And it makes sense because he's right at the weight the Oklahoma coaches want him to play at in college. With long arms and an upper body that already carries all the weight necessary to make him an effective back, it's now about maximizing his explosiveness instead of getting it back.
And that's bad news for opponents on Hendrickson's schedule and good news for Oklahoma fans anxious to see the carnage a healthy Perine can inflict on Hawks opponents before he inks with the Sooners.
As for the commitment, the phrase that Perine kept coming back to regarding his decision was "family-oriented," the way that he describes the Sooner program and what drew him to it above his seven other offers, a number significantly depressed by the injury.
"I wanted to see where I would feel at home and find somewhere I could play early in my career," Perine said about his decision.
One of those seven offers was picked up at an Alabama Junior Day, but Perine said that the depth chart at Oklahoma when compared to a loaded Crimson Tide depth chart was another significant factor.
The power back with strong feet said that doesn't have any immediate plans to make it back to campus in Norman, choosing instead to wait until the football season to catch a couple games and catch up with the team.
He did, however, have some final words for Sooner fans.
"It's going to be a pleasure to play for them."
A pleasure Sooners fans no doubt would like to reciprocate.
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