Coming into the 2012 season there was doubt surrounding 2014 Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson running back Samaje Perine.
There was doubt his knee was healthy, there was doubt about how he would bounce back from such a severe injury, and there was doubt about just how much of a role he would have even if he was able to play as a junior.
Perine never lost faith, and he never gave up hope. No, the 5-11, 215-pound running back just kept his head down and worked his way back. Then when Hendrickson began their season at the end of August, there was Perine lined up in the backfield.
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After that first game he played in every single game, posting 1,993 yards and 14 TDs on 235 carries for the 8-3 Hendrickson Hawks.
"It was great. It was a learning season for us," Perine said. "We were a young team so we just pulled together and made it the best we could. We got to know each other know how each other plays and know each other on and off the field. It was a pretty good season."
As for the knee?
"It felt great. I still see spots I can improve on strength-wise, but overall it felt really good," Perine said. "The last couple of weeks I felt really good. I was playing with nothing scaring me. Even if they go low I can just pick my knees up and do what I normally do."
After rushing for 1,438 yards and 8 TDs as a sophomore, Perine was considered one of the top running backs in the state of Texas. Purdue was one of the first to extend an offer and Tennessee offered in October; however, several other colleges decided to take a wait and see approach.
"They're still interested in me and they want to see how I did this year," Perine said. "So I'm expecting it to pick up a little more after Christmas a little bit and towards the spring."
One school keeping a watchful eye on Perine has been Alabama.
"Yes sir, coach Saban sent me a letter talking about they were interested in me. This was earlier in the year," Perine said. "He said they were very interested and they just wanted to see how I played this year and that if I played well they would start looking into me more. Coach Nussmeier, the Alabama offensive coordinator, came down to the school to watch me and I Facebook him every now and then and keep in touch."
This weekend Perine, who is originally from Alabama and has many ties to the state, plans to take an unofficial visit to watch the Crimson Tide in action.
"I'm actually going to the Alabama-Auburn game this week. I'm leaving on Wednesday," Perine said. "It was undecided last week because if we would've won we would've had to play, but it's awesome. I can't wait to get down there. I've been talking to people and everything they have to say about them is great. They say the atmosphere is good, and the fans they're great. I'm excited."
In addition to Alabama, he is hearing the most from Tennessee, Baylor, Tulsa, and Oklahoma State. Earlier in the year he named a top three of Alabama, Oregon, and Baylor but is not naming any favorites at this point in the process.
Perine was recently named to the 2014 Rivals250 to Watch list, and in January, he is planning to attend the Army Combine in San Antonio, Texas.