It’s finally August, which means fall practice is underway, classes will resume shortly, and Oklahoma Sooners football is on the horizon. We have 32 days left in our countdown to kickoff, and today we will be highlighting OU’s all-time leading rusher, Samaje Perine.
Samaje grew up in Pflugerville, Texas, a suburb of Austin. That had to sting for UT fans, among other things. And while Perine quickly garnered attention for his super-human strength in the weight room, he was also admired for his quiet, humble and friendly demeanor. The legend of Samaje is full of mind-blowing tales, like the time when he lifted a car to help a fellow student change a tire. What is perhaps most impressive about Perine is what he accomplished on the field.
In Oklahoma’s long list of running back greats, you’ll find Samaje Perine at or near the top. On Jan. 2, OU played Auburn in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. In what would be his final collegiate game, Perine broke OU’s career rushing record long held by 1978 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims. Perine finished his career with 4,122 rushing yards and a countless number of life-long fans.
One would assume that accomplishing such a feat would be the most memorable moment of a player’s career. With Samaje Perine, the moment that cemented him in Sooner lore happened on November 22nd, 2014. Samaje was only a true freshman, but in a rain-delayed game against the Kansas Jayhawks, not even the inclement weather could stop him. For 15 years, the record for the most rushing yards in a single game in FBS history was held by TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson with 406 yards, until Wisconson’s Melvin Gordon broke that record with 408 yards on November 15th, 2014. Unfortunately for Gordon, that only lasted a week, as Perine ran for 427 yards and five touchdowns. After the record-setting run, Bob Stoops called a timeout to allow the fans to celebrate and praise Perine for his historic game.
The rest of Samaje Perine’s career was full of touchdowns and yards and trucking defenders, but no other single game eclipsed what happened that day in Norman. After the Sugar Bowl victory over the Auburn Tigers, Perine would forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 4th round, and his amazing story continues on.