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Oklahoma Sooners Football: DE/EDGE Ronnie Perkins selected by New England Patriots with the No. 96 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft

Ronnie Perkins was fantastic after his return in 2021, and it’s earned him a spot with the Pats.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Oklahoma at Iowa State Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Oklahoma Sooners’ most talented defensive players in recent memory wasn’t allowed to wear an OU uniform as many times he would have liked. Frankly, the fact that he wasn’t is ridiculous, and the NCAA is an archaic entity that should have no business handing out such suspensions. Nevertheless, Ronnie Perkins’ NFL future looks bright, as he’s been selected by the New England Patriots with the No. 96 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Ronnie Perkins’ Story (from Allen Kenney’s draft profile)

Perkins, a native of St. Louis, arrived in Norman in 2018 as a consensus blue-chip recruit on the defensive line. He wasted no time claiming a spot in the rotation along the defensive front during his freshman season and appeared in all 14 games, starting seven of them. He managed to lead the team in sacks that season with five, which says a lot about the quality of OU’s defense in ‘18. Perkins’ freshman campaign also offered him a chance to showcase his versatility by shifting from a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end to JACK outside linebacker late in the season.

A year later, Perkins solidified his future as a five-tech DE in the one-gap scheme installed by new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. He tallied 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks on the season, both of which ranked second on the team. In what seemed to be a theme throughout his college career, Perkins put together arguably his best performance of the season in a must-win game at Baylor that saw him ring up three sacks.

Unfortunately for Perkins, a positive drug test for marijuana late in the season meant he didn’t get the privilege of being on the field to get smashed by LSU in the College Football Playoff, OU’s final game of 2019. Moreover, failing the NCAA-administered test knocked Perkins out of the first half of the 2020 season, too. A promising effort to get his suspension reduced in ‘20 stalled out when he reportedly failed to meet the requirements to regain his eligibility.

Perhaps motivated by the possibility of declaring early for the draft, Perkins played superb football when he finally did get back on the field for OU’s final six games of the season. He notched 5.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in that stretch, which included stellar performances versus Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Florida. It’s not a stretch to say his progress played an instrumental part in elevating OU’s defense to one of the better units in the nation by the end of the year.