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Friday, February 13, 2009

Collins Hill RB Charles Perkins comfortable as the No. 1

Collins Hill tailback Charles Perkins loves to finish first in everything, which made him an ideal fit as Georgia Tech’s first commitment for the 2010 recruiting class.

“I wanted to be first,” Perkins said. “I believe I was the first junior that Georgia Tech offered, and I know I am the first one that committed.

“To me, it’s an honor to be first. [Tech] showed me a list of its first commitments over the years, and there were some big-time names on there … Derrick Steagall, Quincy Carter [who later played at Georgia] and others.”

When Collins Hill runs the ball, Perkins is usually the first one down the field. He finished with 1,244 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns during his junior season.

But that was not the first thing that Eagles coach Billy Wells told recruiters about Perkins, who also considered offers from Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Central Florida and Wisconsin.

“Charles is a young man with outstanding character… . That’s the first thing out of my mouth to college coaches, and one of the best things you could ever say about any kid,” Wells said.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Perkins has a 3.3 GPA and plans to enroll early in college. Here are some things to know about Tech’s first 2010 commitment:

‘Most recruited player here’

When Perkins picked Tech, he had six offers, with more on the way. Auburn, USC, Tennessee, Georgia and Clemson showed serious interest.

“Charles is one of the best running backs in the state,” Wells said. “Had he not committed early, he’d be as highly recruited as anybody we’ve ever had. Well, I guess he’d still be the most recruited player here. In my 11 years at Collins Hill, I’ve probably seen around a total of four college head coaches. In the two weeks leading up to Charles’ commitment, I saw four head coaches… . I thought he’d have 12-15 offers by the end of spring practice.”

‘No need to keep searching’

Perkins committed to Tech two months after being offered. He saw no reason to wait, citing proximity to home, academics and winning.

“When I get there, I feel like [Tech] will be competing for the ACC championship every year, along with the national championship,” he said.

A pep talk from Tech assistant Jeff Monken helped push Perkins over the top.

“He said, ‘When you’re searching for a wife and you find the one you want to marry, you don’t need to keep searching around or dating hundreds of others.’ That really stuck with me. In other words, he was saying if you find the right college, there’s no need to keep searching.”

‘Tech is where I want to be’

Perkins is aware of the story of Dontae Aycock, a Tampa quarterback who committed to Tech and then saw his scholarship yanked after he was warned against taking a last-minute visit to Auburn.

Perkins said Tech coach Paul Johnson carefully explained “what commitment means” and asked repeatedly if he understood before accepting the early pledge.

USC was Perkins’ childhood favorite. What if that program offers?

“I would turn it down,” Perkins said. “USC is loaded with running backs, and Tech is where I want to be. That’s an easy decision.”

‘Best of both worlds’

Perkins has exhibited such versatility that it is hard to project where he will end up in Tech’s backfield.

“Charles had several runs over 60 yards. He has breakaway speed [clocked at 4.43 seconds in the 40],” Wells said. “By the same token, he’s not afraid to run between the tackles, so he’s very effective in the power game as well. Charles is really the best of both worlds.”

‘You won’t beat me twice’

Perkins is legendary with his classmates for his competitiveness. Not necessarily with football, but for everything.

“I am probably the most competitive person you’ll ever meet —- in sports, board games, video games, shooting pool. I love to win and hate to lose,” Perkins said. “If someone beats me, I’ll go home and practice and come back the next day. You won’t beat me twice.”

‘I’m half Samoan, half black’

Perkins said people are always interested to know about his ethnic background.

“My mother was born in American Samoa, so I’m half Samoan and half black,” he said.

Perkins said his background helped his parents bond with Johnson during recruiting.

“[Johnson] coached at Hawaii, where he coached a lot of Samoan players,” Perkins said. “He knows some about the Samoan culture and said it was rare to find Samoans in Georgia.”

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