By Al Lesar ALesar, South Bend Tribune
3:27 PM EDT, July 20, 2013
Second chance. New lease.
David Perkins has another opportunity to prove himself.
Perkins, a Washington High grad who played football at Ohio State last year and then left the school, has landed at Illinois State University.
He picked the Redbirds over Bowling Green and Northern Illinois.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker played mostly on special teams for the Buckeyes last year. He appeared in 10 games, recording six tackles and one broken-up pass.
His most famous tackle at Ohio State was a hit on mascot Brutus Buckeye during a practice last spring. It received national attention on YouTube.
Shortly after the end of spring practice, Perkins chose to transfer. While visiting Bowling Green, he found himself in trouble. A late-night incident led to his arrest for criminal trespassing, criminal mischief, criminal damaging and underage consumption of alcohol.
Perkins, who is in Normal, Ill., now, did not return several phone calls from The Tribune. His coach at Washington (who is now at Niles High), Antwon Jones, said Perkins made financial restitution to the victims and the charges were dropped.
Jones is hopeful this is a turning point for Perkins.
"I hope he has learned what he's looking for," Jones said. "Hopefully, he took some lessons from everything he went through at Ohio State and afterward, and applies them to his life. Time management is important. I hope he learns how to make better decisions.
"These sorts of life lessons can make him a better man."
In terms of football, Perkins is walking into a situation in which he can play immediately. Since Illinois State is in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA), there is no mandate to sit out a year after a transfer.
"He's a talented kid; big and fast," Jones said of the four-star recruit a year ago. "They expect to have him in the lineup. I just talked to David and he said he already had the playbook down. We'll see what happens."
Under head coach Brock Spack, the former defensive coordinator at Purdue, Illinois State posted a 9-4 record last season. The Redbirds reached the playoffs, beating Appalachian State, 38-37, in overtime, in the first round, before falling to Eastern Washington, 51-35, in the second round.
Jones said the Illinois State assistant coach in charge of recruiting Perkins was Lamar Conard, a 2000 Purdue grad who played his high school ball at Elkhart Central.