When spring practices open up on Tuesday of next week, the Missouri Tigers will claim players on its roster from as many as 14 states across the nation.
But, by the time the 2010 season commences, that number may very well receive an addition from a very unlikely place.
The Juneau Empire reported Monday that Jack Perkins , an all-state linebacker from Juneau-Douglas High School, is expected to enroll at Missouri this summer. From there, he'll take his shot at earning a spot on the MU football team as a walk-on when preseason workouts begin in August.
The fact he's native to a state that is more known for its proximity to Russia than for its Division I football talent doesn't seem to faze Perkins much. For that matter, neither does tackling the challenges that face a player trying secure some space on the roster as a virtual unknown.
"I wanted to go (Division I) to see if I can play there," Perkins told the paper. "I'm fine with working from the bottom up and I just want to get a shot at playing at the big time."
And Perkins definitely has his work cut out for him, as there will be any number of factors working against him when he steps foot in Columbia.
First off, Perkins is currently rehabbing his knee after undergoing surgery to repair an injury sustained late in his senior season. Perkins has only just begun to regain full use of the knee, but he says he plans to accelerate his rehab efforts while working out with the team over the summer, adding that MU offers the "best facilities" for him to get his knee back to 100 percent.
Also perhaps impeding Perkins' cause is his position . With All-Big 12 performer Sean Weatherspoon the only member of the linebacking core gone from 2009, the Tigers are loaded at the position. Linebacker is arguably MU's greatest source of depth, and as many as 10 players could see action in 2010, which is a scenario that would all but shut the door on Perkins' hopes.
If that were not enough, Perkins' mere status as a walk-on means anything less than near-perfection during the Tigers' four weeks of preseason workouts will likely not cut it. Even if he were to impress MU coaches enough to earn a spot on the team, Perkins still would face an uphill battle in terms of obtaining a scholarship.
Assuming all 23 of its 2010 recruiting class members will qualify academically, Missouri has 89 scholarship players on its roster heading into the 2010 season, which is four more than the NCAA allows.
Now, that number will dwindle because of expected offseason attrition, either due to the coaching staff revoking several scholarships or players transferring, and Perkins could very well pull a Brandon Gerau with some yeoman-like work on the practice field, but the odds are nonetheless stocked against him.
Despite this, Perkins said he's excited just to be given the chance to compete at a BCS school, especially considering the state of Alaska produced just two Division I players from 2004 to 2008, according to research conducted by Sports Illustrated .
By comparison, the state of Texas churned out 974 BCS recruits during that span.
Before deciding on Missouri, Perkins considered a host of other programs, including Washington, UCLA, Idaho, and Florida State.
If there's one glimmer of hope for the 6'1", 205-pound Perkins, it's that he is also listed as a fullback, which seems to have grabbed the attention of many MU fans on Internet message boards.
Despite Perkins' smallish size, speculation has begun to surface that his recruitment may be an indication that the MU coaching staff is ever so slightly beginning to veer towards incorporating a more traditional running game within the offense.
But Perkins has given no indication that he really cares where he plays. Above all else, he wants to repay Missouri for looking past his injury—and perhaps his location—to give him a chance.
"It shows that they have a lot of trust in me and I feel lucky to have it. I'm definitely not going to let them down," he said. "I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can and hopefully contribute to their team."
Photo credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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