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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Perk-s of the game

Junior Joe Perkins attempts to take down Stanford?s Toby Gerhart on Saturday. The safety has seen increased playing time on special teams and defense this season.
Junior Joe Perkins attempts to take down Stanford?s Toby Gerhart on Saturday. The safety has seen increased playing time on special teams and defense this season.

The defensive backs during head coach Mike Stoops’ tenure have seemingly taken center stage.

Former UA safety Michael Johnson, a solid player in college, made his way to the NFL and won Super Bowl XLII with the New York Giants. Wildcat fans also have fond memories of former cornerback Antoine Cason. During his senior year in Tucson, Cason won the Jim Thorpe Award given out annually to the nation’s best defensive back.

This season, seniors Devin Ross and Cam Nelson lead the way as sophomores Robert Golden and Trevin Wade round out a stout secondary.

But another player recently worked his way into the rotation and could become just as well-known as the others.

“”Joe Perkins, he’s been playing real great and coach Mark (Stoops) wanted us to rotate a lot (against Washington and Stanford). We both played an equal amount of snaps and everything, so it was all good,”” Golden said. “”Joe Perkins is a really good player. He deserves to be out there on the field just as much as I do.””

Perkins — called Perk by coaches and teammates — paid his dues on special teams last year as he recorded 18 tackles on kick coverage plays alone in 2008. That hard work is paying off in the form of more playing time this season.

Arizona’s game against Washington was the first time Perkins saw significant action in the secondary, and that trend continued during last week’s game against Stanford. He responded by recording six tackles, including four solo takedowns.

“”Just like last year, I got a couple of reps in, and I just wanted to make sure I was ready when my chance came,”” Perkins said. “”That’s all I’m trying to do now is take advantage of the opportunities I get.

“”I’m always on Trevin’s side and I know him from back when we used to get in — his freshman year and my sophomore year — in reserve duty,”” he added. “”It’s been pretty normal and what I expected. It’s been a blast.””

It appears as if Perkins could be enjoying himself for a while longer. UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said he’s trying to figure out more ways to get the 6-foot-2, 198-pound defensive back on the field. Nickelback could be one possibility, he said, but Perkins will certainly continue to be in the rotation in the secondary.

“”There’s certain things we can do to get Perk out there (at nickelback),”” Mark Stoops said. “”When guys earn the right to play and they’re playing well then you try and find some space for them.

“”I’d say he’s a guy where if he would have gotten every rep like some of the other guys he’d be making just as many plays,”” he added. “”That’s why I think it’s important to give him a fair chance to get in there and see what he can do.””

And Perkins has shown he can do a lot in various spots, but he doesn’t care what position he lines up in. When he’s on the field he just wants to do his job and try to make plays.

“”It really doesn’t matter. Free (safety) is more in the box. That’s fine, I like that,”” Perkins said. “”When you’re in the box it’s a little more to know, but strong is fine too. All of us (defensive backs) can play any spot. It really doesn’t matter because we’re all interchangeable.””

This is Perkins’ third season playing for Stoops, and he’s getting more and more comfortable with the system. As a transfer from El Camino College, a community school in California, he had some troubles with the transition to the college game early on, Mark Stoops said, but that’s behind him now. It’s what is in front of Perkins that’s important: the opportunity for more playing time and continual improvement.

“”It’s fine, just a long-awaited process, but you can’t get impatient about it,”” Perkins said. “”The coaches know what they’re doing, so it just makes you better in the end … Hopefully we’re still rotating and I can just go in and do my part for the team.””

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