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Perine turns pro after setting OU rushing record

Perine turns pro after setting OU rushing record

12:18 PM ET

  • Mitch ShermanESPN Staff Writer

    • Nebraska/Big Ten/Recruiting reporter.
    • Joined ESPN in 2011.
    • Graduated from the University of Nebraska.

Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine announced his intention Tuesday to enter the NFL draft, hours after he broke Billy Sims’ school career rushing record in the Sooners’ 35-19 win over Auburn in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

“Playing for Oklahoma has been an incredible experience,” Perine wrote in an Instagram post. “I am so grateful for the opportunity and everyone who has been a part of it.

“That being said, after much consideration, I have decided to enter the 2017 NFL draft.”

Thank you! #Soonerforlife

A photo posted by Samaje Perine (@samaj32) on

Perine, who rushed for 4,122 yards in three seasons at Oklahoma, thanked coach Bob Stoops, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, running backs coach Jay Boulware and offensive assistant Cale Gundy for “always pushing me to be my best and allowing me to grow within the program.”

“Thank you to my parents, family, friends and girlfriend for always being there for me,” he wrote. “Thank you to all the fans who have cheered me on as I’ve progressed through my career. I can’t express how much I appreciate all of your support these past three years. I hope to continue to make you all proud. Boomer!”

Perine rushed for 1,713 yards in a breakout freshman season two years, including an FBS-record 427 yards against Kansas. He gained 1,349 yards as a sophomore and added 1,060 this season despite missing two games with a leg injury and splitting time with Joe Mixon.

Perine rushed for 239 yards on 37 carries in Oklahoma’s Big 12-title clinching win over rival Oklahoma State on Dec. 3.

“To be the all-time leading rusher at a place like Oklahoma,” Stoops said after the bowl win Monday night, “when you look at the lineage through the decades, is really something special.”

Stoops told reporters Tuesday morning that he expected Perine to declare for the draft.

Mixon, a third-year sophomore, is also expected to consider an early departure from Oklahoma before the Jan. 16 deadline.

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