VYPE Recruit Spotlight: Cypress Park's Perkins sees stock skyrocket with offers from LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama
HOUSTON – Cypress Park football has its first big-time recruit.
The infant football program just completed it second varsity season in 2019 – going 3-7 overall – and on it was sophomore Harold Perkins.
Perkins pops up all over the stat sheet for the Tigers. He passed the ball a few times, he rushed it 31 times for 268 yards and two scores. He even caught four passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. And even returned some kicks for a total of 550 all-purpose yards in 2019.
But it's the defensive prowess of the sophomore outside linebacker that has caught the attention of college recruiters.
Last year he finished with 46 tackles, four sacks, one interception, seven pass deflections, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt.
As the spring recruiting season emerged the offers started to come. Baylor was the first on March 26. Then Tulsa on April 2. Then the floodgates opened.
Since April 6, Perkins has received offers from USC, Arkansas, Texas, University of Houston, Oklahoma, SMU, defending National Champion-LSU, Texas A&M and most recently Alabama.
"Honestly it was a big surprise," Perkins said about his recruitment taking off via text. "I just remember talking with my 7-on-7 coach after working out and he was telling me to prepare for a big weekend after Texas offered me. Sure enough the next day it was like a movie."
The day he's referring to was Friday, April 10.
Perkins' phone was lighting up. Five Division I offers rolled in in the matter of hours – including two from teams that were in the College Football Playoff last year.
Houston, Oklahoma, LSU, SMU and Texas A&M all offered on that Friday, the day after the Texas Longhorns offer.
"It was definitely crazy," Perkins said. "I was excited about all of them, honestly. It felt really good to get the LSU offer just because I'm from New Orleans. But getting Texas A&M, OU, Texas, Houston, SMU and LSU all within 24 hours had me excited period."
Perkins' family moved to Houston when Hurricane Katrina hit in the early 2005.
Most of Perkins' family has moved back to New Orleans since then, but his decided to stay in Houston, which didn't set well with him at first.
"I was so upset, I hated being in Houston until coach Larry from Houston Defender Basketball got me more active," Perkins said. "It really allowed me to settle in and find things to love in Houston. It also allowed me to meet two of my best friends Donovan Green (Dickinson TE) and Jaiden Robertson (Dekaney).
"I thank coach Larry because I might not have met them or linked up with my coaches and teammate on my 7-on-7 team the Houston Storm. I'm just really thankful. Most people see Katrina as a tragedy, but I found some light within the storm."
As the offers have rolled in, Perkins says every college has talked to him about playing mostly outside linebacker. Alabama offered him as an athlete.
When talking with each coach, Perkins has a list of questions he asks.
The list ranges from 15 to 20 questions, including ones about what the team GPA is and what the percentage of students graduating from the program is.
"It lets them know I'm big on grades and can the school help in the process of me becoming a man and can you prepare me for the next level, whether it's football or not," Perkins said.
The recruiting attention on Perkins doesn't only help him in his future but can benefit his teammates as college recruiters come around to see him, they also see them and other athletes across all sports.
"It means a lot to me that I could be the first one out of all the great athletes at our school right now," Perkins said. "I honestly wouldn't be at this point without any of my teammates or coaches at Cy Park. I hope it opens the door for a lot more people, girls and boys included."
HOUSTON – For the first time in a long time, the Ogwumike household is full.
With COVID-19 sweeping the country, the family came back together where it all started. Ify Ogwumike sits back happy these days as she has all her girls - Chiney, Nneka, Olivia and Erica – back under the same roof again.
"It's fun," Erica said. "We're all adults now, so we're not playing games like when we were kids, but we are still laughing and goofing around. It's cool to do that not over the phone or Facetime, which is what we've been used to for the past eight years."
With two daughters that play for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA and one who's an analyst for ESPN and the other two at Rice University, being together all at once in person doesn't happen very often.
Being together this week will be even that more special as on Friday, Erica is projected to be selected in the 2020 WNBA Draft.
"It's hard not to think about it, it's the next step," Erica said. "I'm just really excited and happy that I've put myself into this position to be a contender for something like that. To look back and see my journey, it's awesome how I've been able to create my own identity apart from my last name. I'm hoping for the best but at the same time I know I've put in the work and the commitment, so whatever happens [this week] will be interesting."
The Ogwumike name has resonated through the city of Houston for a long time.
After her high school career, Erica went to Pepperdine for a season before transferring back to Rice for her final three years of college basketball.
Back in her hometown, Erica in her junior season helped take the Rice women's basketball to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005, the third time ever in program history. That same season, Ogwumike became the first-ever player to win Conference USA Player of the Year.
That season rekindled the excitement in the city around Rice women's basketball, which is something Erica didn't realize the magnitude of until after last year.
"I was approached by a lot of young girls who play basketball. They were like 'You go to Rice!'," she said. "Growing up, I didn't even know about Rice, even though it was only 45 minutes away.
"When I look back, that might be the biggest thing I'm proud about participating in in showing people that Rice is an amazing academic institution but at the same time you can go there and be an excellent student-athlete and get that full experience."
This season should have added to their historic resume.
Another Conference USA Postseason Championship within grasp. A second-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament for their taking.
But COVID-19 had other plans.
Because of it, the NCAA pulled the plug on the rest of the year's sports, including the NCAA Tournaments, after the spread of the virus. Thus ending Erica's illustrious Rice career.
"I can't lie and say it wasn't disappointing," Erica said. "We worked really hard to represent Rice athletically in the best manner possible throughout my four years. I think we were really building on that. We did build a really good reputation for Rice women's basketball. To make it to two NCAA Tournaments, to win two conference championships would have been so amazing to experience as a team.
"So I think we will always have that 'what if' factor. We did have a lot of momentum and we were playing some of our best basketball at that moment."
Last week, Erica won her second-straight Conference USA Player of the Year Award, becoming the fifth player to ever do so in the conference history. In the Rice record books, Erica leaves first in career scoring average (17.7 ppg), second in career rebounding average (10.1 rpg) and third in career free throw percentage (81.4 percent).
Don't out play expectations. Outplay everybody.#OgwumikeOut pic.twitter.com/9R09XhOVYK
— Erica Ogwumike (@Ogwumi13) April 10, 2020
Her ability on the court has drawn the interest of the WNBA.
Being the sister to Chiney and Nneka, who both play for the Sparks, isn't challenging as they've always given their "unwavering" support.
"I've been blessed because they've experienced almost everything I've wanted to experience," Erica said. "They've been able to help me from high school, college and now whatever I decide to do in the future. It's been more of a blessing than any type of crutch."
The good thing about heading into this WNBA Draft week with a pair of WNBA players under the same roof is you have insight into the process.
Enjoying the moment and controlling what you can control has been their main message, Erica said and they are working out together right now to stay in shape as the draft approaches for her and the 2020 WNBA season for them.
According to one mock draft, they have Erica being taken in the third round with the 34th selection by – the Los Angeles Sparks.
"That'd be a good story, right?" Erica said with a laugh. "Movie-type."
Erica continued: "It would be something that I've never even imagined to be honest. I think since you've said it now, it would be special. If it happens it'll be special. That'd be exciting. I'm keeping my options open and just trying to be ready for any opportunity that presents itself. But that would be cool. I can tell you that would be cool."
The follow-up to the being drafted to your sisters' team was, what if you had to play against them?
"Let me just focus on trying to get drafted first," Erica laughed. "Then I'll focus on those issues later."
The WNBA isn't the only egg in Erica's basket though.
When Erica arrived at Rice University she decided to go pre-med. A few weeks ago, that work paid off as she was accepted into medical school.
"That's what I've worked for my whole academic career when I decided to be pre-med," Erica said. "It was a great testament of how much Rice, the people and resources can help you achieve the best of both worlds.
"I've been excited about medical school, but also about working hard to achieve basketball at the next level. I'm just glad to have options."
So, what field could future Dr. Ogwumike venture into?
"No one in my family does anything medically-related," Erica said. "I'll have a little time to figure that out. A lot of things sound interesting like dermatology or emergency medicine, which are opposites."
The former Cypress Woods and Rice University standout has time to figure that out. This week, though, is the next step of her basketball career.
Which, she will enjoy with her family by her side in Houston.
"I'll just be at the house watching it," Erica said. "Maybe I'll vlog it."