UCLA’s Paul Perkins ran for 116 yards in a 31-10 loss to Stanford on Nov. 28, 2014. (Will Lester/Staff)
Paul Perkins wasn’t UCLA’s starting running back to start the year, but he has ended the regular season as the Pac-12′s leading rusher.
The redshirt sophomore has run for 1,381 yards in 12 games, putting him on top of the conference’s tightest rushing race in years. However, the Pac-12′s record book also factors in postseason games, including the Pac-12 Championship this Friday.
Paul Perkins has lived up to any and all expectations in his first full season as UCLA’s starting running back, becoming the program’s 13th 1,000-yard rusher and ranking third in the Pac-12 with 117.2 yards per game.
Along the way, the redshirt sophomore has had to adjust to a much heavier workload. Last season, he only took double-digit carries five times, and finished the year with 130. This season, he has taken at least 14 carries in every game, and has a total of 190.
“It’s good to have a bye,” Perkins said. “That’s pretty much all I can say.”
Head coach Jim Mora hasn’t noticed a difference in the 5-foot-11 tailback’s performance.
“He hasn’t really shown any indication of being worn out or worn down at all,” he said. “Even on a Tuesday, he bounces back. I guess that’s the good thing about being 19 or 20 years old.” Continue reading →
UCLA is not a team accustomed to using true freshmen in the backfield.
Last year, linebacker Myles Jack pulled double duty and rushed for 267 yards and seven touchdowns in just four games. But before that, the last Bruin tailback to play without needing redshirt year was Malcolm Jones in 2010.
This fall, UCLA has deployed another newbie in Nathan Starks, who has touched the ball 21 times for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It isn’t much, but as the only full-time back on the roster listed above 200 pounds — 5-foot-11, 205 — the Colorado native gives position coach Kennedy Polamalu a different type of prospect to mold.
That process has involved a guiding hand from redshirt sophomore Paul Perkins, who recently became the 13th Bruin to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
“Paul is actually one of the first running backs I got close and talked to when I got here,” Starks said. Continue reading →
As Paul Perkins walked out of the UCLA locker room this week, a reporter joked to him: “You can’t say the words, ‘offensive line.’”
Perkins chirped back: “You can’t say ’1,000 yards.’”
Like many running backs, the Bruins’ redshirt sophomore has made a habit of thanking the big fellas in front of him for anything he does. During UCLA’s 17-7 win against then-No. 14 Arizona this past Saturday, Perkins became the 13th player in school history to cross 1,000 yards in one season.
He stuck true to form: “They do a great job of blocking up front. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys.”
Perkins needed just two carries against the Wildcats to reach his big moment, and finished with 21 for 78 yards. He now sits second in the Pac-12 with 1,074 yards on the season.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know I got off the sideline and someone told me I got to 1,000,” he said.
Naturally, it was an offensive lineman who broke the news.
On just his second carry Saturday night, Paul Perkins became UCLA’s latest 1,000-yard rusher.
The redshirt sophomore entered the Bruins’ game against No. 14 Arizona needing four more yards to hit quadruple digits on the season. On his first touch, he cut upfield for three yards. On his second, another three.
He is the 13th UCLA player to ever run for 1,000 yards in one season, and the latest since Johnathan Franklin did so in 2012 with a single-season record of 1,734. Franklin, the program’s all-time leading rusher, also crossed 1,000 as a sophomore in 2010.
He’ll likely hit that mark on his very first carry at the Rose Bowl this Saturday. The last two Bruins to reach the milestone were all-time leading rusher Johnathan Franklin (in both 2012 and 2010) and Chris Markey (2006).
Perkins is currently second in the Pac-12 with 124.5 yards per game, which puts him on pace to rush for 1,618 yards through the regular season plus a bowl game. That would be the second-best single-season mark in school history, behind Franklin’s 1,734.
Running back Paul Perkins missed the fourth quarter of UCLA’s 36-34 win at Cal last Saturday with a right wrist injury, but practiced with it wrapped on Tuesday and appears on track to play at Colorado this weekend.
Bruins head coach Jim Mora said the tailback is “doing well.” Perkins is third in the Pac-12 with 116.6 yards per game, and also had four receptions for 75 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears.
Cornerback Fabian Moreau practiced after suffering what Mora originally called a “stinger.” Inside receiver Thomas Duarte is still limited after tweaking his hamstring, and did not practice in full on Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, Mora also said they were “doing well.”