Owa and Perkins have California connection

Posted May 17, 2016

Owa Odighizuwa and Paul Perkins were college teammates at UCLA:

Owa Odighizuwa and Paul Perkins: From 'True Blue' to Big Blue.

It's 2,767 miles from the Rose Bowl, home to the UCLA Bruins, to MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants.

A long journey, but one running back Paul Perkins was happy to make following the 2016 NFL Draft.

“I’m just honored to be here and going to New York,” Perkins said during a conference call shortly after the Giants selected him with their fifth round pick. “This is awesome. I can’t even put this into words right now.”

The Arizona native and third-leading rusher in UCLA history had a familiar face waiting for him in East Rutherford, New Jersey. That of second-year pro Owa Odighizuwa, whom the Giants drafted with their third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Perkins and Owa were college teammates for two years.

“I talked to him right after I got drafted,” Perkins said. “One of my friends called him and I was talking to him for a little bit. He said it's a great city, a great town, a great area and a great team to play for.”

“I was super excited when the Giants drafted him,” Odighizuwa added. “He’s a great person and an extremely hard worker. He comes in every day with the right attitude. The Giants are definitely getting a great player and an even better person.”

Perkins arrived at UCLA in 2012, but sat out that season as a redshirt freshman. By that time, Odighizuwa was part of head coach Jim Mora’s regular rotation at defensive end. In 2013, Perkins became the feature back for the Bruins and in 2014, both Perkins and Odighizuwa helped lead the Bruins to a 10-3 record and a win in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

“We had a high level of respect for each other in college,” Odighizuwa said. “He came in my junior year so we were two years apart. I know everybody on that team and we had a great friendship and great relationship.”

After reporting for rookie minicamp at the beginning of the month, Perkins and the other five members of the Giants’ 2016 draft class have mixed in with the veterans for offseason workouts. The first round of OTAs start on Monday.

Perkins says having that pre-existing relationship with Owa has helped in the transition from college to the pros.

“It definitely helps having someone I'm relatively close to and have played with for a while on this team,” Perkins said. “It’s good to have someone who can show me the ropes.”
Perkins is now part of a crowded running back room that includes Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams, Orleans Darkwa, Bobby Rainey and Marshaun Coprich.

Regardless of his role with the Giants this season, Odighizuwa believes Perkins has a bright future in the league.

“I always said that Paul Perkins is going to be special in the NFL,” Odighizuwa said. “I know with the type of person he is, he’s humble, he’s a hard worker. He understands that it’s just the beginning.”