Eric Perkins is learning from the best during his stint at NDSU
Photos by Paul Flessland
Eric Perkins is one of the five remaining members of the recruiting class from 2012. Listed at 5 feet 8 inches, Perkins is one of the three shortest guys on the team, but his ability to stick with the brutal and hard working Bison football environment has been admirable. He’s been through thick and thin and in and out of surgeries so much that his toughness epitomizes what it takes to be a Bison.
Earlier this year, Perkins went under the knife twice. However, he’s clawed his way back on the field just in time for playoffs. And he’s no stranger to making a huge impact when the season’s on the line.
Last year, NDSU held a strong lead against Richmond in the semifinals. The Spiders boomed a punt to pin the Bison deep in their own territory. Perkins caught it at NDSU’s 12-yard-line and cut to the right to avoid the Richmond bullet. He then exploded up the middle of the field and outran the punter, angling himself toward the west pylon. Perkins scored his first touchdown on a punt return and the rout of Richmond had commenced.
Perkins solidified himself as the primary kick returner during the end of the 2014 season. He got the job on the last game of the regular season and went on to return 14 kickoffs the rest of the year and averaged 24.1 yards per return. In 2015, punt returning duties were his responsibility.
The wide receiver’s gritty display has shown signs on offense. But again, with injuries plaguing him for two seasons, a consistently healthy Perkins has been tough to come by.
But off the field, Perkins is as solid as they come. He graduated the morning before the James Madison semifinal game and has four Missouri Valley Football Conference Honor Roll achievements to his name with a fifth on its way.
Perkins came to NDSU with exercise science as his intended major. He hasn’t deviated from the course and looks forward to working with football players for his entire professional career. With Director of Athletic Performance Jim Kramer molding Perkins over five years, the senior from Kewaskum, Wisconsin, couldn’t ask for a better mentor.
Bison Illustrated: What enthralled you about the strength and conditioning industry?
Eric Perkins: “Right away, I just saw the intensity and all the passion, everything that Kramer brought and it really sparked an interest for me to go down that path of strength and conditioning. I was impressed with just how intense he was and I just want to be around football and be able to make a difference in people’s lives. I feel like strength and conditioning is a really big way (to do that) because we’re with Kramer more than we are with our own coaches, so he makes the biggest impact on us.”
BI: Have you been able to complete any internships to see what it’s like being in your career field?
EP: “I did an internship over at Dynasty with Cole (Jirik) and Christian (Dudzik). I was teammates with those guys so I was already close with them and was able to jump right in and work out and train some of the kids, some of their clients that they had. It was really good experience because they trusted me with them right away, and they said, if I wouldn’t have had the background that I had, they might not have let me train the kids right away, but since they knew I knew what I was doing, I was able to jump right in and get a lot of good experience.”
BI: Did you put them through what you do at NDSU?
EP: “Cole and Christian created their own resistance focus training, and then every once in a while, I would create my own agility or speed workout program. They let me do that a couple times, so I worked out with both the resistance and the speed workouts too, so that was fun.”
BI: Was that the first time you got experience working with other athletes?
EP: “I volunteered at MSUM the semester before in the spring. I was over there for about a month or two and I was helping out with Coach (Travis) Anderson with the football program over there.”
BI: Do you feel like you have a better grasp for strength and conditioning because you’ve been through five years of Kramer’s program?
EP: “I definitely think that it will help me, being coached under Kramer since he’s got such a good pedigree of what he’s done. I mean, coach of the year and everything and being through all the workouts. I know what to expect and what’s harder and what’s easier. Like how to create my own workout, in however many years that’s going to be.”
BI: What’s the next step for you after you graduate and the season is over?
EP: “Probably going to be working with NDSU football for the next semester, as a volunteer intern type of thing. And then see where it goes from there.”
BI: You have additional schooling down the road. Any idea where that might take you?
EP: “For now, my girlfriend is going to be here so we’re both going to be in Fargo for another year, and once she’s done with her internship, I’ll start looking elsewhere and see if we can branch out a bit.”
BI: What’s your ultimate goal with strength and conditioning, in terms of where you want to end up?
EP: “I don’t have a certain college or anything, but to be a head strength coach at some university. Football for sure.”