Perine primed for big season with Gators

Florida running back Lamical Perine answers questions Monday during SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala.. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

HOOVER, Ala. — During the recruiting process, Lamical Perine, a standout running back from Mobile, Ala., did not receive a whole lot of love from his home-state schools.

In fact, he received none from Auburn. The Tigers never offered a scholarship.

“They said I was too slow,” Perine said.

Alabama gave him a little love, but it came really late in the form of a phone call from a certain Tide coach.

“It was kind of crazy when they came in at the last minute,” Perine said at SEC Media Days on Monday. “Honestly, Nick Saban is the one who called me and gave me my (Alabama) offer. It was kind of surreal. But I had to come back to reality and realize I’m a Gator.”

The word in this state is that no one says no to Nick Saban.

But. …

“Lamical Perine did,” he said.

The late Tide offer was appreciated and a little bit tempting, but even if it had come much earlier in the process it likely would not have swayed Perine to change his mind about Florida.

Not only had he been committed to the Gators for almost a year, he’d considered himself a Gator since he was 11 years old, and that wasn’t going to change with one phone call.

“Just the tradition and the winning ways,” Perine said, when asked why he’d grown up a Gator. “Seeing Tim Tebow, guys like that, Percy Harvin — just guys that carried that Gator standard the right way.”

So, when the legendary Saban called with the offer, Perine did not even consider flipping to the Tide.

“No, never,” he said. “I’m an honest guy. I’m a loyalty guy. Florida was honest with me, so I was going to do the same thing.”

The commitment between player and school has turned out to be a good thing for both Perine and Florida.

Perine has steadily produced for the Gators since stepping on campus as a true freshman in 2016 and playing in all 13 games that first season. Over the past three seasons, he has combined to rush for 1,809 yards and 16 touchdowns and catch 32 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns.

After leading UF in rushing in 2018 with 826 yards and seven TDs, Perine enters this season as one of the best running backs in the SEC.

He’s a high-impact player in UF’s offense, quarterback Feleipe Franks said.

“He’s super valuable,” Franks said. “Super good player, humble. Has been all about the program. He’s just a guy you just like to have in your locker room. Funny guy, never having a bad day, smile on his face, just always a good vibe to be around and he’s a really good player on top of that.”

Perine explored possibly leaving after his junior year to enter the NFL draft. But he wanted to come back and get his degree and continue to work on his overall skill set.

His goal when he arrived at UF was to develop into a complete back. All indications are he has reached that status.

“One of the great things and smart things for him was making a decision to come back to school,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “If you look at his aspirations of playing at the next level and going into the pros. There’s not tons of guys that get 30 something carries a game in the NFL.

“You see backs that get used all over, motioning out of the backfield, in the pass game, all over the place and the value that these players have.

“So, you see someone that has really worked on making himself a complete player, not just a great back running the ball, but understanding … protection, make sure he understands route running and the bigger picture of the game.”

Perine showed how complete a back he is in the 41-15 beatdown of Michigan in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. In the third quarter, he caught a 5-yard touchdown pass, then broke off a 53-yard run for a TD in the fourth quarter. He finished with a team-leading 76 yards rushing and a touchdown and five receptions.

In his previous game, against FSU, he rushed for 129 yards, 74 coming on a touchdown run. Two weeks before that, in the comeback win against South Carolina, he rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns.

Perine enters the 2019 season on a roll — and with big expectations for the Gators.

“The expectations are always high. That’s what type of coach Coach Mullen is,” Perine said. “We’ve got to go out and prove all of our hard work is paying off.

“The three games we lost last year we could have won. We’re learning from the little mistakes we made last year and we’re going to change it up this year.”

Perine is looking forward to every game this season, but one in particular stands out.

Auburn comes to The Swamp on Oct. 5.

“That’s going to be a nice game,” he said. “I plan to have a great game.”

Up next

Who: Florida vs. Miami

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 24

Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando


Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850


  1. I love the commitment (since he was 11 yrs. old) from Perine. And I truly hope he not only plays well against Auburn, but ultimately ends up in the ATL, and BEATS ‘BAMA! Never say ”never,” (for the pessimistic), and never say, ”always.” (for ‘Bama fans). Go Gators! Go Perine #22! ‘”Healthy, whole, and blessed!” All year, too!

  2. You could really see him mature as a runner this past season. Instead of just plowing forward, and making some pre-programed cuts here and there, he has gotten to the next level in the synaptic connection between eyes, mind, and body, all flowing together, sensing when to make that cut, or when to accelerate or decelerate, and what’s happening all around you with defenders, blockers, etc. It’s not just about power or speed anymore, he’s now a mature and instinctive runner. Can’t wait to see what kind of year he has (O-line permitting).

  3. Saw his first game in Orange and Blue and have thought he was the RB we needed.
    “The three games we lost last year we could have won. We’re learning from the little mistakes we made last year and we’re going to change it up this year.” I felt that way last year though they were not ready for that kind of success.
    Perine is looking forward to every game this season, but one in particular stands out.
    Auburn comes to The Swamp on Oct. 5.
    “That’s going to be a nice game,” he said. “I plan to have a great game.”
    GI beat me to it above. I’ll be there to see that game and LP showing them what they missed out on.

  4. This kid has GATOR written all over him. He came to Gainesville on a bus from Alabama, a multi-hour ride. He got offered at camp here. He cried when he got his offer and accepted immediately. He got back on the bus bc he couldn’t afford to stay overnight . I love this guy . He will be one of those players who will never forget his time here and be a vocal Gator fan all his life. We need more L. Perine’s in the future, as players and as men.

    • MK-you stole my thunder. Everything you stated I was going to state as well. He won me over with that bus ride story and on top of that-HE PAID HIS OWN WAY TO GET TO THE CAMP!!! That did it for me. I’ve always loved Perine and I for one will hate to see him go once his UF career is done. Auburn and Bama’s loss is UF’s gain. He is a great young man and a true Gator thru and thru. Some NFL team will be getting a steal (hopefully my Steelers) come the 2020 draft. Good luck with the season LP and as always…GEAUXXX GATORS!!!

  5. Hey, while Perine is not Gale Sayers, I am certain that if our young and inexperienced O-line can give him 18 inches of daylight, he will protect the ball and at least move the ball beyond the sticks. This could be a magical season for our Gators. Underdogs do prevail from time to time.

    • I think the young and inexperienced label that keeps getting placed on the o-line is kind’ve a misnomer. Right now the projected depth chart is red shirt junior Stone Forsythe at LT. He’s played in 15 games in his career, starting 3. Redshirt Junior Brett Heggie at LG. He’s played in 18 games in his career, starting 7. He even won offensive lineman of the week honors in 2017. He’s just had injury problems, otherwise he’d probably be a 3 year starter. Redshirt senior Nick Buchanan at center. Obviously we all know he’s the only returning starter. Redshirt senior Noah banks at RG. Appeared in 12 games last season for UF and 32 games in his career between 3 schools. Finally the only one who fits the young and inexperienced label, redshirt freshman Richard Gouraige at RT. He played in 2 games last season. Yes, beyond the starters it gets a little scary, but if the starters can stay healthy, there’s a lot of experience on the line. All but one has been at the college level for a at least 4 years and they have a combined 79 games played. Lets just keep our fingers crossed that the starters stay healthy and some of the young backups can step in and give the starters some rest and not miss a beat.

  6. “The three games we lost last year we could have won. We’re learning from the little mistakes we made last year and we’re going to change it up this year.”
    Love the attitude and the confidence!
    “That’s going to be a nice game,” he said. “I plan to have a great game.”
    LOL, ya think he wants a little revenge for the recruiting snub?