Rhamondre Stevenson’s bond with Ronnie Perkins got a whole lot stronger over the weekend.
After enduring a six-game NCAA suspension over Oklahoma’s 2019 and 2020 college football seasons for failing a drug test, Stevenson learned Saturday that he and Perkins’ journey will continue as teammates with the New England Patriots.
“That was really my guy," Stevenson said Saturday on a conference call with reporters. “That’s my right hand, so it’s crazy that we got drafted to the same team. We actually talked about this during the season, so it’s crazy we manifested it.”
Stevenson, the junior college transfer who began his OU career as the third-team running back and ended it as the Cotton Bowl MVP, said the call from Patriots brass came as something of a shock.
“It was totally a surprise to me, actually,” Stevenson said. “I’ve had more conversations with other teams other than the Patriots. So I think that’s because the Patriots, they had a good idea on me.”
Pats coach Bill Belichick explained after drafting Perkins on Friday that he was comfortable with the team’s background check process and had no character concerns about Perkins. The same was true of the 6-foot-1, 231-pound Stevenson.
“We had a great Zoom interview,” Stevenson said, “so I don’t think they really needed to talk to me much. It was just a surprise because I haven’t been communicating with them as much as other teams.”
In Foxboro, Stevenson would seem to have time to learn the Patriot Way under Damien Harris, Sony Michel and James White — if Belichick intends to keep four running backs. He may not. Rookie running backs usually have to wait for their turn in the spotlight in New England (Michel in 2018 became the Patriots’ first rookie to lead the team in rushing in 13 years).
But the physical, fast and elusive Stevenson showed at OU that he can contribute in the running game and the passing game, so perhaps he’ll get a shot.
“Now,” Stevenson said, “we’ve just got to go to work.”