Junior Damian Perkins Looks to Post Bigger Numbers in 2007
Aug. 24, 2007
NACOGDOCHES - During the course of his two seasons on campus, junior linebacker Damian Perkins has caused a lot of sleepless nights for both offensive and defensive coordinators. A 2007 Preseason All-America selection by Lindy's Magazine, Perkins arrived on campus prior to the 2005 season expecting to be the future of the SFA ground game.
With his power running style, the Hallsville, Texas, native won the 'Jacks starting job at the beginning of the season. Perkins started the first four games before his year was cut short by injuries. He finished the year third on the squad with 66 carries for 281 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.
But before Perkins could begin entertaining thoughts of a sophomore season in the 'Jacks' backfield, he was moved to the defensive side of the ball. The move, precipitated by the team's depth at running back, turned out to be a great one not only for SFA, but also for Perkins.
"At first I was shocked when I was told that I was being moved to linebacker, because I was recruited to be a running back," said Perkins. "But coach (McFarland) told me I would have a better chance to help the team on defense.
"In the season opener last year, I only had six tackles. Plus, I didn't even play the whole game, so that first game was tough. Two games later, I recorded 23 tackles at Arizona. By that time, I was comfortable with the position, and I was used to it," added Perkins.
In relatively short period of time, Perkins took to his new position like he had played it his whole life. In fact, the switch to defense was nothing new to Perkins, who excelled as both a running back and linebacker in high school.
"I was already familiar with the position, having played it in high school," said Perkins. "So it wasn't like I went to the position without any experience. I have to admit it was shocking at first, but once we got into the spring and started hitting people I enjoyed it."
Playing his new position, similar to a Patriot missile seeking its target, Perkins was non-stop in his pursuit of the football. He dominated the position leading not only the team, but also the Southland Conference in tackles. He started all 11 games, finishing the year with 92 tackles, including 34 solo stops. Perkins also finished the year among the league leaders in sacks and tackles for losses. It could be argued that Perkins spent so much time in the opponents' backfield that he missed his time as a running back. He was among the league leaders with 11.5 tackles for losses, and sacks.
Perkins burst onto the scene in the third game of the season. The Lumberjacks traveled to Tucson, Ariz., to take on Arizona from the Pac 10. Perkins was involved in 23 stops and recorded his first career interception, which earned him SLC Defensive Player of the Week, Don Hansen's Football Gazette Player of the Week honors and a spot on the IAA.org Weekly All-Star team. Perkins' numbers were so impressive all year that he earned second-team All-Southland Conference honors.
Perkins gave defensive coordinators reason for concern as a freshman, and caused offensive coordinators many sleepless nights last season. He may very well do both as a junior.
During fall camp, Perkins has participated in some workouts with the Lumberjack' running backs. In the team's first scrimmage, Perkins was tough to bring to the ground. Breaking tackle after tackle, he finished the day with six carries for 42 yards and a touchdown, and recorded a long run of 23 yards.
"I look at it as a challenge," said Perkins. "Not everybody gets the opportunity to play a couple different positions during their college career. It is another opportunity for me to help the team. So if it comes my way, I'm just going to take it and run with it."
It remains to be seen whether Perkins will finish his career as a linebacker, or whether he will someday make a return to the offensive side of the ball. One thing is for certain, whatever position Perkins winds up at, he will have a huge impact on the Lumberjacks' fortunes.