After making a visit to take in an Oklahoma practice Tuesday, Samaje Perine knew he didn’t need to wait any longer.
The ESPN Watch List running back from Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson went home, talked it over with his parents and decided it was time to make it official: He’s going to be a Sooner.
On Wednesday, the 5-foot-11, 213-pound power back became Oklahoma’s third 2014 verbal commit.
“It feels great,” he said. “I had a good relationship with the coaches and I felt like home away from home.”
Perine chose Oklahoma over Alabama and TCU, and he also held offers from Tennessee, Houston and Purdue. The Sooners have been the favorite for a while now, especially after running backs coach Cale Gundy convinced Perine he’d have a chance to play right away when he gets to Norman, Okla.
With backs Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch set to graduate after this season, Perine likes the opportunity OU offers. That ended up being a major reason he had to turn down an offer from the national champion Crimson Tide.
“Alabama is a great school, but they just have so many backs right now and they’re going to have a lot of great backs when I graduate,” Perine said. “There wasn’t a need for me there.”
In the end, though, it was his relationship with Gundy that sealed the deal.
Perine got to know the coach well throughout the process and appreciated the full day of one-on-one time he got during his junior day visit in February. He was happy to make the phone call Wednesday afternoon to Gundy to deliver the good news.
“Everybody was excited,” Perine said. “I called Coach Gundy and got a chance to talk to Coach [Bob] Stoops and see how he felt. Everybody was extremely excited about it.”
Perine came back from a torn ACL and MCL suffered at the end of his sophomore season and rushed for 2,017 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012.
He knows now that his knee is fully healthy he’s in for another big senior season, and that will lead to even more schools recruiting him. But Perine said he won’t worry about that, and he’s glad the recruitment is done.
“I know that I’m still going to have people coming after me,” he said, “but I’m going to try to make them respect my decision.”