Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson coach Chip Killian first got a good look at Samaje Perine more than three years ago.
Killian was looking for special teams help as his team entered the playoffs and decided to give the freshman who hadn't seen any time with the varsity a shot on the kick coverage unit.
The result was three tackles on five kick-coverage attempts and the realization that Perine had a chance to be a special player.
That's exactly what Perine has become, rushing for 1,993 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.
In March, the longtime Alabama fan turned down an offer from the Crimson Tide to commit to Oklahoma.
Perine grew up in Jackson, Ala., before moving to Texas.
Early playing time was a deciding factor in Perine choosing Oklahoma over Alabama and TCU.
“Alabama is a great school, but they just have so many back right now and they're going to have a lot of great backs when I graduate,” Perine told ESPN.com. “There wasn't a need for me there.”
That isn't the case in Norman.
After this season, the Sooners lose their three top running backs — Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch — to graduation.
None of the other running backs currently on the roster has seen any playing time entering this season.
“I think he's definitely got it in him to play right away,” Killian said. “When he gets there, it might take him a week or two to catch up to the speed of everything but there's no doubt in my mind that he can come in and play right away there.”