STARKVILLE – LaDarius Perkins has a big sweet tooth, which you wouldn’t know by looking at him.
Tucked away in his drawer are lots of Reese’s, Twix, and Skittles.
“I love Skittles,” said Perkins, Mississippi State’s redshirt freshman tailback.
Oh, and Snickers. Perkins always eats one prior to Friday walk-throughs and before games.
It hasn’t affected his physique one bit. He carries a rock-hard 190 pounds on his 5-foot-10 frame, and it’s a mystery to his teammates and strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis how Perkins can remain so chiseled.
“(Balis) was telling me the same thing: ‘Perkins, I don’t see how you do it. I don’t see how you can eat all this candy … and you’re still ripped up and 4 percent body fat,’” said Perkins.
Balis hasn’t told Perkins to stop eating the junk food.
“He knows I’m going to keep doing it,” Perkins said. “He knows I’m going to going to work hard anyway.”
That hard work paid off last week when Perkins rushed for 131 yards and scored two touchdowns in MSU’s 29-24 win over UAB. He was filling in for starter Vick Ballard, who sat with an injured ankle.
Head coach Dan Mullen said Ballard was about 85 percent on Saturday, but he didn’t want to risk aggravating the injury. Plus, he had faith that the tailback rotation State has been using all season would have Perkins well-prepared.
“It shows the program and their belief in the program, that when your number’s called, you’re ready to go in and perform at a very high level,” Mullen said. “LaDarius’ number was called on Saturday night, and he performed at that high level.”
What makes Perkins particularly effective is that despite his speed, he’s not just an outside runner. He can take it between the tackles and is strong enough to get yards that way, too.
“It’s a point of pride,” Perkins said. “I feel like, just like Vick, he’s a downhill runner, I feel like I can run downhill, too.”
Ballard was running with the first team at Sunday’s practice and is expected to return this week against Kentucky. So Perkins, who had 18 carries last week, will likely see his touches drop.
With it being Halloween on Sunday, though, the candy supply will get a healthy boost. The trick will be to keep it hidden from his roommate, receiver Chris Smith.
“I eat a lot,” Perkins said. “I don’t like to eat in the cafeteria that much, but I eat because I have to eat. But I still have to go back and eat my candy, too.”
Carr gets in gear
n Freshman Michael Carr, a former West Point standout, caught the fans’ eyes when he ripped off a 20-yard run against UAB, his first touch as a Bulldog.
All his coaches wanted to talk about Monday was the fumble he forced on a kickoff return, which sealed the win.
“How about him making the play on the kickoff? That was awesome,” offensive coordinator Les Koenning said.
Carr, who wasn’t able to join the team until August camp because of late academic clearance, is one of the best athletes of MSU’s 2010 signing class. He now has enough knowledge of the offense to earn some playing time.
“The development of players is not, here’s the ball, go do something special,” Mullen said. “What are you doing? Are you covering kicks, are you involved in special teams, are you becoming an all-around football player? And that is the proper development of players we’re seeing.”
Following the UAB game, Carr said making the transition to this level came down to this: “Relentless effort. Effort, effort, effort, effort, effort, effort. Working hard, working hard, working hard.”
n In addition to Ballard, center J.C. Brignone returned to the practice field with the first-string Sunday. He did not start Saturday because of a sprained knee suffered two weeks earlier, but he talked Mullen into letting him play the second half.
“We were kind of dead out there, kind of like a bunch of zombies running around, so I figured we’d get a fire started and kind of go out there,” Brignone said.
It worked, as State scored on five of its next six possessions.
Guard Tobias Smith, who has a history of ankle issues and missed Saturday’s game, was limited Sunday but was expected to rejoin full practice today. Backup cornerback Damein Anderson, who has an undisclosed injury and also sat out, was limited to agility drills Sunday.
BRAD LOCKE / NEMS Daily Journal