As the first running back in Mississippi State history to be named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, LaDarius Perkins charges into his final season for the Maroon and White chased by numerous watch lists and opposing defenders.
State’s ninth 1,000-yard rusher frequents the nightmares of opposing defensive coordinators as Perkins can be found in more places than just the Bulldog backfield. The senior running back made not only the Doak Walker Award watch list, given annually to the nation’s top running back, but also the Hornung Award watch list, given annually to the nation’s most versatile player.
Perkins finished last season with 1,061 rush yards, 160 receiving yards and 325 kick return yards for a total of 1,509 all-purpose yards, finishing second in the SEC with an average of 125.8 all-purpose yards per game.
He said the team is trying to get the ball in his hands any way possible this year, whether he’s coming out of the backfield, lining up as a receiver or even returning punts.
“You can expect to see me touch the ball a lot of different ways,” Perkins said.
Although he has racked up over 2,000 yards rushing in his career at MSU, the best may still be to come for Perkins, who has one of the most experienced offensive lines in front of him this year. Senior Gabe Jackson, who joined Perkins on the 2013 preseason All-SEC squad, anchors what may end up being one of the best offensive lines in the conference.
Perkins said the time spent together off the field has strengthened the on-the-field performance of the guys up front.
“I feel like this is one of our best o-lines that we’ve had in a while with all those guys coming back and the chemistry they have,” Perkins said. “I know the chemistry is there. They just make sure they get better every day.”
Perkins also knows he must continue to work for his spot on the field. After improving and maturing under former Bulldog running backs and current NFL stars Anthony Dixon and Vick Ballard, Perkins now leads the way and finds himself being challenged by younger running backs.
Perkins said the depth at running back with Nick Griffin, Derrick Milton, Josh Robinson and Ashton Shumpert will allow him to take breaks when he needs to, but he knows they want even more playing time, too.
“I have to stay on my P’s and Q’s at all times,” Perkins said. “They’re watching every move you’re doing because they’re trying to figure out how is this guy doing so good. They want to do the things I do and probably even do them better to get more playing time, which is great because whenever they ask me questions on or off the field, I’m going to give them my thoughts. I just want those guys to keep getting better.”