Oklahoma Sooners rising sophomore running back Samaje Perine went into the spring this year looking to build off of a fantastic freshman season, but wasn’t thrilled with how he was handled. Per Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman, Perine was not happy with being issued a non-contact jersey during the team’s spring game, in which defenders were not allowed to hit him and he only carried the ball three times for four yards.
Perine elaborated on this, and it’s hard to disagree with him.
“We have so many talented running backs that if one of us gets hurt, we have plenty that are right there ready to step up to the plate and take on the challenge,” Perine said. “I don’t think of myself as being better than any of the other guys, so to say that I can’t get hit because they don’t want me getting injured is kinda like saying I’m better than the rest of those guys. I really don’t like that.”
Though it is nice to see Perine’s humbleness and that he views himself as an equal among teammates, despite leading the Big 12 in rushing last season, it’s hard not to see the coaching staff’s reasoning for doing so.
A strong running game has always been the star of Sooners coach Bob Stoops’ offense, with Oklahoma having ranked in the Top 20 in rushing offense each of the past two seasons, so protecting Perine should be a top priority even if it means issuing him a non-contact jersey.
Given how Perine ran for 1,713 yards on just 263 carries last year for 21 touchdowns, while also adding 15 receptions for 108 yards along the way, the coaching staff probably made the right decision, despite Perine’s opinion on the matter. Oh, and let’s not forget that he set an FBS record for most rushing yards in a game when he racked up 427 yards against Kansas on November 22, thus breaking the record of 408 set by former Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon III the week before.
Thus, though his reasoning is sound, Perine receiving a non-contact jersey in the spring is only going to help the team going forward.
Oklahoma opens the 2015 season at home against the Akron Zips on September 5.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports