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Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Loyalist: Charles Perkins never wandered from path to Georgia Tech

How sure was Charles Perkins that he wanted to play for Georgia Tech? So sure that he actually committed to Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson on Feb. 1, 2009, three days before last year’s national signing day.

“I was actually going to do it before then,” said the 6-foot-1, 210-pound running back, who is already enrolled and attending classes at Georgia Tech. “They were my first offer. It came mid-junior year. I went to a couple of games and a couple of visits. My mom loved it. My dad came up to a bowl practice with me and I pretty much told Coach Johnson then I was going to commit. But I didn’t do it right there. I waited until February.”

In the year since Perkins resisted countless temptations by dozens of recruiters to get him to waver on that commitment. And he gave Tech’s rivals plenty of reasons to want to turn him.

Perkins was a one-man Ramblin Wreck for the Collins Hill Eagles. Despite the fact everybody in the stadium knew he was going to run the football, Perkins plowed through stacked defenses to the tune of 1,646 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns and tacked on another 300-plus yards receiving.

Perkins quickly served notice in the first game of the season against rival Parkview High. The bruising tailback carried the ball 33 times to the tune of 302 yards and scored his team’s only touchdown in a blue-collar 10-7 win. And so the season went.

Auburn, Tennessee and Wake Forest were the most persistent suitors. They continued to recruit Perkins after others gave up and focused their energies elsewhere. Or at least trying to recruit him.

“They were all trying to contact me,” said Perkins, sitting on a bench on the Tech campus between classes this past week. “They were sending me things, sending me letters, inviting me to games and to take visits. But my coach kind of dealt with all that stuff. I was just focused on the season.”

Said Collins Hill coach Billy Wells: “For Charles, what you see is what you get. He’s a first-class kid and a high-character individual. He knew when he made his commitment to Georgia Tech he was going to stand by his word. The coaches who came by the office and wanted to know about Charles, who wanted to know if there was any opening or if he was solid, it was pretty easy to look them in the eye and tell them he was firm with his commitment.”

That doesn’t mean Perkins hasn’t had second thoughts. Not about his decision to attend the Institute, but about playing the recruiting game a little, about prolonging the process and maybe taking a trip or two just for the fun of it.

“At one time there were a bunch of schools coming after me,” Perkins said. “I think I would have been like some of these guys I see that have 30, 40 offers. I think I would have been up there, too, if I would have waited. But I didn’t see the point in it. You can only choose one.”

He took just one official visit and that was, of course, to Georgia Tech on the 12th of December.

“After that, I thought to myself, ‘man, I could have gotten a lot more free food and stuff, seen some nice places,’” he said with a laugh. “But I made my decision and that’s what I was sticking with.”

THE LOYALIST

Definition: A prospect who commits to a school early, sticks with that commitment without so much as a waffle and signs with chosen school on or before national signing day

The example: Charles Perkins, RB, 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Collins Hill High School, Lawrenceville. AJC’s No. 5-ranked player.

Fun fact: Perkins’ most impressive individual performance came in the first game of the season when he rushed for 302 yards on 33 carries against Parkview. Oddly, Perkins’ longest run from scrimmage that night was 24 yards.

Recruiting situation: Calm as a frozen lake. Perkins is already taking classes at Tech and rising at 5 a.m. twice a week for off-season workouts with the Yellow Jackets.

Status: Enrolled.

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