Gators Film Room: Why Lamical Perine Received a Senior Bowl Invite

Donavon Keiser

Three of Florida’s senior contributors have recently accepted an invite to the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl, a prospect bowl game showcasing the top seniors in the country to NFL scouts and coaches. 

Running back Lamical Perine was one of the three Florida players to recently accept the opportunity, joining his teammates in defensive ends Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga. Perine will head back to his hometown of Mobile, Alabama to take part in such a unique game filled loads of talent from across the nation.

Perine has struggled to post the intriguing production that he had in year's past in 2019, and yet still found an invite in his mailbox from one of the biggest annual NFL Draft events that there is. What warrants an invite regardless is his story, and how he has taken advantage of his opportunities no matter the situation or circumstances.

Perine has a unique story, as he saved up money to take a Greyhound bus to Gainesville in order to make one of Florida’s camps. That bus ride paid off as his former position coach, Tim Skipper, offered him a scholarship. 

At the time, only Florida and Mississippi State (led by Dan Mullen at that point) had given Perine offers to play within the SEC. Perine committed to Florida the next day, and four years later he is still making plays for the Gators. 

The senior was told he was too slow to play for his home state Auburn Tigers coming out of high school - and he got redemption last month, taking an 88-yard run to the house against Auburn at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to put the Gators up two scores and put the game out of reach. 

That run was the longest since Emmitt Smith played at Florida, and should keep Perine in the Florida record books for the foreseeable future.

Perine’s big-play ability is something Florida fans have become familiar with, as he seems to make a play whenever the Gators need it the most, like the Auburn run. No. 2 is also a bruiser, and he gets better as you get him the ball throughout the game. 

The Auburn game is a prime example of his clutch plays coming as the game wears on. Another great example would be his performance against FSU last year.

Time and time again, Perine has proven he is an aggressive back who loves contact and picks up a considerable amount of his yards after contact. According to Pro Football Focus, Perine has forced 78 missed tackles by defenders in his four-year career, averaging 3.04 yards after contact per attempt.

Perine will not hesitate to lower his shoulder and put his defenders in the dirt, and any scout loves to see that, especially when he holds on to the ball as well as he does. 

Throughout his four years at Florida, Perine has only lost four fumbles on 532 touches, despite the amount of contact he takes on.

Perine is excellent at running outside the tackles, as he gets himself in space to make plays with his explosiveness and force. The senior has fantastic vision as he finds holes in the defense before they happen and has that explosiveness to make plays. His elusiveness and vision will earn him a role in an NFL offense that calls for plenty of zone blocking, where he will thrive.

Imagine Perine in the Baltimore Ravens offense, running option plays with Lamar Jackson.

Some scouts and draft analysts were critical of Perine’s ability in the passing game, but given Florida's run blocking woes in 2019, Perine has been given an excellent opportunity to display growth in the air game.

And he has.

Head coach Dan Mullen has helped evolve Perine into an all-around RB1 in 2019 as the Gators have become more pass-heavy. The senior running back has 28 catches through 10 games this season, which has doubled from the 13 he had in 2018. His hands are strong, and he can catch almost any ball thrown his way. 

He has been forced to make plays due to bad throws, but he has made the most of his targets in the red zone. Perine can be a weapon out of the backfield in many pro offenses, although his pass protection could use some work.

If you get Perine the ball out in space as a receiver, he flashes the same traits that he offers as a running back. No, he might not run a sub-4.5 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine, but elusiveness, short-field burst (keep an eye on his 10-yard split at the Combine), and vision is more beneficial at running back than homerun speed.

Due to an inexperienced offensive line, Perine has not been able to showcase his abilities as a runner nearly as much in 2019, but has taken substantial steps within the passing game to show scouts and coaches that he can do anything at the professional level.

He's the Senior Bowl type. 

Despite poor run blocking, Perine has still averaged 4.5 yards a carry, with four touchdowns on the ground and three through the air this season. The Theodore High School product will get a chance to play behind some of the best senior offensive linemen in the country at the Senior Bowl, which will allow him to build his draft stock in front of many scouts and coaches. 

The senior from Mobile is slightly above the average size of an NFL running back (5’10, 211 lbs.) as Perine measures in at 5’11, 218 lbs., which will help his stock come April. As of now, Perine is widely seen as a Day 3 running back prospect, but he is the perfect candidate to a breakout player at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, only to follow with his draft projection rising.

GatorMaven publisher Zach Goodall will be attending the 2020 Senior Bowl to report on Perine, Greenard, and Zuniga's week.

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