Above Photo Credit: Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine (32) takes a hit as he runs with the ball against Texas Tech during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Norman, Okla.. (Kyle Phillips/The
To qualify this ranking of running backs at Oklahoma, I have included only players that I have personally seen in person at the stadium or live on television. I began watching Sooner football in 1958 and my remembrances go back to 1961. With that, I have not included any player before 1961. This is the first part of a series of greatest Sooner football players by position. Please comment on my lists and argue your best Sooner players. There are no right or wrong rankings. The lists, started with Joe Don Looney (10th best running back), will include offensive and defensive positions. Statistics, abilities, and overall significance to the OU football program are all included in picking the ten, but when all things are equal, my personal preference is the tie breaker.
8. Samaje Perine (2014-present) All-American 2014
The sophomore runner from Hendrickson High School near Austin, Texas, is on course to push the envelope as the greatest ball carrier in Sooner history. A current rank of 8th in my list is temporary, as it wouldn’t surprise me that Perine plays all four years of his college eligibility. And yes, he could take his skills as a punishing and effective back that can scoot for big yardage after contact to the next level at the end of his junior year. Either way, Perine has the opportunity to be the leading all-time rusher in OU history with a big junior season. Going into the bowl season, Perine has 3,004 yards on the rush, putting him in 10th place on the all-time list. He is 1,114 yards behind the great Billy Sims and that puts him in range to break the record in 2015. His 6.34 yards per rush puts him 3rd in that category at OU in the top ten running backs, with only Greg Pruitt and Billy Sims better. With 36 touchdowns, Perine is 21 scores behind Steve Owen’s 57.
Coming to OU with two outstanding qualities (high self-esteem and a mature and fully developed body), Perine was ready to fill the running back slot for the Sooners as a true freshman. An eighteen year old kid that looked like a fully grown man, Perine is the real deal, a bull dozing machine that can run over, through, or around defenders, then out race them to the goal line. In his first year in Norman, Perine broke the NCAA mark for rushing yards in a game, 427, against the Kansas Jayhawks, a record he still owns. He scored five touchdowns in that blow-out win for OU. He is a historically significant player on the national level with that performance and more can be expected to come. He will get the complete attention of the Clemson Tigers in the National semi-final in the 2015 season’s Orange Bowl.
Perine, is every bit as good as any running in the country and his record breaking career for OU is not over. Add to the fact his running style (low and bruising) is built for the NFL, a longer rather than shorter career in the professional game gives him a bright future.