DB transfer Jadarrius Perkins providing position flexibility in Gators secondary

Zach Abolverdi
The Gainesville Sun

Following Jaydon Hill’s season-ending knee injury in preseason camp, Florida coach Dan Mullen was asked who the staff would turn to at cornerback.

He said the loss of Hill would accelerate the career of Avery Helm, who has started the first two games opposite Kaiir Elam. Mullen also mentioned Ethan Pouncey and the young players at the position, such as true freshman Jason Marshall Jr.

But the first player Mullen singled out was Jadarrius Perkins. 

Florida cornerback Jadarrius Perkins (27) breaks up a pass during the second quarter Saturday against South Florida at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

“We have Perkins, transferred in, going to have an opportunity,” Mullen said at the time. 

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Perkins enrolled at UF in late June and made a strong first impression in preseason camp. He started out at cornerback, the position that made him a top-five JUCO recruit nationally in the Class of '21. 

“Very good movement skills. Can run,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said of Perkins following his first practice. “Like his attitude, like his mindset on how he wants to help our team and he shows talent. If you can get guys who can run, that have length to them, that play with physicality, then you have a chance to be a pretty good corner.”

The 6-foot-1, 182-pound Perkins was initially competing for playing time with Hill at the start of camp. Prior to Hill’s injury, he spoke highly of the Missouri transfer. 

“He’s a great athlete. He’s a good-sized guy, has good speed. I know he’s capable of doing it. Just with the little stuff that we have done, I can tell that he’s a good player,” Hill said of Perkins in early August. “JD, I feel like he can bring a lot to the room.” 

Hill was right, as Perkins has the position flexibility to be more than a cornerback. Once Helm emerged in camp as the starter, Perkins switched to a new spot in the secondary and began playing STAR (nickel). 

“We’re trying to find guys that create the depth at different positions,” Mullen said of the move. “He picked it up pretty quickly, and did a good job with it. And Tre’Vez Johnson does a great job with it, too. But those guys bring a little something different, and create more flexibility within the defense.

“Perk, really pleased. … Started him at corner, now also playing some STAR. He’s done a good job of working his tail off, mentally. Obviously, he has some great physical tools, but mentally to learn the system, learn the defense and get ready to get out there on the field. He’s done a good job making plays.”

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Perkins has recorded three tackles in each of Florida’s first two games and made a pass breakup last Saturday against USF. Grantham raved about his work ethic and how coachable he is. 

“JD, I love that kid, man. I mean, you talk about a kid that busts his tail to be better every day,” Grantham said. “He’s so conscientious. He really wants to please and wants to do things the right way. He’ll come in early, ask questions on something. He may come over as soon as you try to coach him up on the field or on the sideline to say, ‘Hey, coach, what’d you see?’

“I’m really glad he’s here. Getting him has been unbelievable because he’s been able to really give us some quality STAR reps, and he’s only going to get better. You want to have guys like that to coach. They’re fun.”