By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
Wally Bullington will always remember Johnny Perkins for more than his athletic ability.
“He just got along with everybody,” said Bullington, who coached Perkins from 1974-76. “If you didn’t like Johnny Perkins, there was something wrong with you.”
The former ACU all-American, ACU’s all-time leader in receiving yards and New York Giants wide receiver died Wednesday morning at age 54 from complications after recent heart surgery.
Perkins is survived by his wife Debra; a son, Jasmine; and a daughter, Jia.
“One thing I’ll remember most is how family-oriented he always has been,” said Bullington, athletic director emeritus. “Johnny Perkins had a happy nature about him.”
Perkins played at ACU after transferring from Ranger College and was a vital part of arguably one the best offenses in the history of ACU and college football. Combined with fellow wide receiver Cle Montgomery, record-setting quarterback Jim Reese and hall of fame running back Wilbert Montgomery, Perkins was part of the reigning NAIA offense during the 1970s.
“He was a great team man and didn’t worry about the stats,” Bullington said. “But of course they took care of themselves.”
Perkins is still the highest draft pick to come out ACU – he was picked 32nd in 1977 NFL Draft – and is the all-time leader in receiving yards (2,529 yards), third in touchdown catches (22) and sixth in receptions (116).
“Johnny was pretty much, during our days at ACU, the glue behind our team,” said Perkins’ college roommate Cle Montgomery.
He said Perkins was an inspiration to his teammates during his time at ACU, and their friendship continued years after their athletic careers ended.
“Johnny was the type of person that made you better when you were around him,” Montgomery said.
Perkins was an all-Lone Star Conference selection at wide receiver and punter for ACU. He was also named team MVP, LSC Lineman of the Year, first team NAIA all-America and second team Associate Press Little all-America. He played in the Senior Bowl and Blue-Gray all-star games after his senior season in 1976, was named to the 1970s all-decade team and the ACU all-Century football team.
Perkins’ funeral will be at 2 p.m. in his home town of Granbury, and Montgomery said he expects everyone Perkins touched during his life to be there.
“I think anybody that can walk and any of those guys that played with Johnny are probably going to be there,” Montgomery said. “Johnny was the type of guy everybody loved.”