Suntarine Perkins: Taking Ole Miss to the Next Level

Ole Miss linebacker Suntarine Perkins was the crown jewel of the program’s 2023 recruiting class. As a five star, top 25 overall recruit in the nation and #1 ranked recruit in Mississippi, Perkins had a premium recruiting profile. He quickly earned himself a role on a nationally-ranked defense and was awarded 2023 SEC All-Freshman team honors. Perkins and the Rebels defense have their eyes set on national prominence in 2024 after an impressive season in 2023.

Perkins’ SEC All-Freshman season came after being one of the most sought-after linebacker recruits in his class. Perkins participated in the 2022 U.S. Army Bowl after a dominant senior season at Raleigh High School in Mississippi. 

“(Perkins) makes this football team so much better,” Raleigh head coach Ryan Higdon said in a 2022 Signing Day Sports article. “Our kids love him, and they love each other and trust each other.”

The Mississippi native chose Ole Miss over many of the top college football schools in the country. Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU all offered Perkins a scholarship. After a freshman year in which the Rebels lost just two games, both of which were road losses to Alabama and Georgia, Perkins will be a pivotal piece on a defense and team with intentions to compete for a national championship in 2024.

The Rebels ranked #9 in both the final AP and Coaches polls after their 38-25 Peach Bowl win against Penn State. Head coach Lane Kiffin and defensive coordinator Pete Golding will both be returning in 2024. On the offensive side of the football, star quarterback Jaxson Dart and his top receiver Tre Harris will both return. They’re projected to rank as the preseason #5 team in the nation according to a February article published by 247sports, only adding to the high expectations that have already been building for the team.

Perkins is an athletic nightmare for opposing offenses. His potential and pure athleticism were on display early in the season as Ole Miss took on Alabama. Perkins registered two first half sacks and went nearly untouched on both plays on his way to quarterback Jalen Milroe. 

First, Perkins dropped into a spy/zone coverage technique on third down. With no receivers in the area and Milroe rolling out to his right, Perkins shot out of a cannon and dropped Milroe with ease from across the field. Later in the half and again on third down, Perkins and the Rebels defensive line ran a game with Perkins twisting from the edge on the right side and rushing up the middle. The Alabama left guard barely got two hands on Perkins before he blew by and sacked Milroe again. In just his fourth collegiate game against one of the biggest programs in the nation, Perkins had recorded two sacks, getting his defense off the field on both plays.

With his excellent recruiting profile, instant impact as a freshman and good athletic traits, Perkins is sure to be on NFL scouting radars. But before it comes time to think about the pro level, Perkins and the Rebels will have their eyes on the 2024 SEC season and newly-expanded College Football Playoff.

– Elijah Southwick is the lead sports content writer for Degen Magazine. His work has appeared in several news and sports publications

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