Welcome back to another edition of our 2020 Countdown to Kickoff series! As of today, there are 53 days remaining until the currently-scheduled return of Oklahoma Sooners Football! Whether that game against Missouri State is moved up, postponed or cancelled remains to be seen, but we’re going to stick to the schedule for now.
For this installment, I want to highlight one of the most electrifying game-changers in OU history — Antonio Perkins and his 53 punt returns during the 2003 season.
Not only is Perkins widely regarded as the top punt returner of all-time at Oklahoma, he’s arguably the greatest to ever do it in all of college football, period. As a junior in ‘03, AP put up monster numbers as a specialist, and by season’s end he broke Curtis Fagan’s previous program record of 52 total punt returns by a single attempt.
Today, what most Sooner fans think of when they reflect on Perkins’ amazing career is his record-setting performance against the UCLA Bruins in 2003. For some reason, keeping this dangerous man away from fielding punts wasn’t in the game plan at all, and Karl Dorrell’s overmatched squad paid for it big time — not once, not twice, but three times! Check out these amazing returns and relive OU history.
Perkins started off the fireworks with a 74-yard punt return for a score in the early stages of the second quarter. He then followed it up six game minutes later with an incredible 84-yard TD. The day was already a huge success both for Perkins and his team, as the rout over UCLA was in full swing. Finally, with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, No. 28 saw yet another opportunity and made the most of it, housing this one 65 yards to cap off the Sooners’ 59-24 victory over the Bruins and cement his place in college football history.
Those three punt return scores set the new FBS record for most scores of its kind in a single game. In addition to that feat, Perkins also set the D-I record for most total punt return yards in a single game with 277. Both marks still stand today, now 17 years later.
For his career, Antonio Perkins finished his three-year run as a dynamic punt returner with 1,445 yards and eight touchdowns on 113 attempts. For his exceptional campaign in 2003, he was recognized as a Unanimous All-American. He wasn’t too shabby as a defensive back, also, as he was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
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