UCLA running back Paul Perkins declares for NFL draft

UCLA running back Paul Perkins (24) will enter the 2016 NFL draft, forgoing his final year of eligibility. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA running back Paul Perkins (24) will enter the 2016 NFL draft, forgoing his final year of eligibility. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA’s Paul Perkins has declared for the 2016 NFL draft, leaving the Bruins as one of the most productive running backs in school history.

Perkins announced his decision on Tuesday afternoon, one day after nose tackle Kenny Clark did the same. The former led the Pac-12 in rushing as a redshirt sophomore in 2014, and followed that performance with a 1,343-yard season on the ground. He finished as one of the top-five rushers in the conference despite being slowed by a knee injury midseason.

“Although I am excited about leaving,” Perkins wrote on Twitter, “my heart feels bittersweet to say goodbye. It has been an amazing journey. I have made many great friends and will take with me great memories.”

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Arizona native ran for 3,491 yards in his career, the third-highest total in school history behind Gaston Green (3,731) and Johnathan Franklin (4,403).

To replace him, UCLA will likely use some combination of Nate Starks, who ran for 320 yard and five touchdowns in his second collegiate season, or soon-to-be sophomores Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi. The former was second on the team with 404 rushing yards, but racked up most of his numbers late in games.

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UCLA RB Paul Perkins still mulling NFL draft decision

On Monday, someone asked Paul Perkins if he’s thought about what he wants to do after the season.

“Uh, sleep?” he said. “Eating?”

As for the NFL, the UCLA running back insisted that he hasn’t yet made a decision. The redshirt junior was the Pac-12 rushing champion in 2014, and was effective this year even when slowed by a midseason knee injury. One factor in him considering a return is a shot at the Bruins’ all-time rushing record. He is only 980 yards away from Johnathan Franklin’s career record of 4,403, set from 2009-12.

“That’s super cool,” he said. “That’d be so awesome.”

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Kenny Clark leads UCLA with All-Pac-12 first team selection

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins' lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA's season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) was the Bruins’ lone representative on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also caught at touchdown pass in UCLA’s season-opening 34-16 win against Virginia. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Through most of the season, nose tackle Kenny Clark looked like UCLA’s best player. Pac-12 coaches agreed.

When the All-Pac-12 teams were announced Tuesday, Clark was the Bruins’ sole first-team representative on offense, defense, or special teams. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior was second on the team with seven tackles for loss, showed off his development as a pass rusher by notching his first five career sacks.

UCLA placed several more players on the second team. On offense, running back Paul Perkins, center Jake Brendel and left tackle Conor McDermott all earned spots. Linebacker Deon Hollins and defensive backs Randall Goforth and Jaleel Wadood filled in for the defense.

Receiver Jordan Payton, linebacker Aaron Wallace, and cornerback Marcus Rios were honorable mentions.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising part of the all-conference selections was Ka’imi Fairbairn settling for being a second-team specialist. The kicker became the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer this season, hit a school-record 60-yard field goal, and is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award. Throw in his respectable 20 of 23 conversion rate on field goals, and he seemed like a shoe-in on the first team.

Instead, Pac-12 coaches voted for Aidan Schneider. The Oregon sophomore was slightly more accurate at 20 of 22, but hadn’t attempted a field goal longer than 41 yards. Fairbairn’s three misses have come from 47, 49 and 50 yards.

See the full All-Pac-12 teams below: Continue reading

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UCLA 17, Utah 9: QB Josh Rosen, RB Paul Perkins

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen and running back Paul Perkins talk about the Bruins’ 17-9 win at No. 18 Utah, as well as their thoughts on playing USC next week for the division title.

“I hope we don’t get ranked after this game,” Rosen said. “Because for some reason, we don’t like playing ahead. We like when people doubt us.”

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VIDEO: UCLA RB Paul Perkins on Bruins’ final stretch

UCLA already has three conference losses after falling to Washington State on Saturday, but the Bruins still have a chance to clinch the Pac-12 South with wins at Utah and USC.

That lifeline came courtesy of the No. 18 Utes’ loss to unranked Arizona, a game that ended while UCLA was still trying to pull away from the Cougars.

“Us as players, we’re not going to admit it,” said running back Paul Perkins. “Well, we will– We always look at the scores and see what’s going on around college football. … Once we lost, we realized we still had a mulligan.”

He also talked about the Bruins’ success on the road, as well as quarterback Josh Rosen’s development.

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