"I think he started [playing football] when he started walking," Natalie Henry said. "Really though, he was five. I did not like it at all. I didn't like him getting hurt. I didn't like him being rough. I'm a mom!"
Fortunately for all involved, mom gave in and let David play. Today, he committed to Notre Dame and mom can say all the rough-housing and near injuries paid off.
"There came a time where I had to let him be a boy, and he's always been a real boy. I mean, climbing off banisters and flipping over rails. At 18 months, he climbed out of his baby bed and flipped over and I said, you know what, there's something different about him."
Notre Dame and many other schools who offered agree that Perkins is different. This decision, as a result, was not an easy one.
Mrs. Henry calls it "a long journey." She also says helping him through each step was difficult, but very rewarding.
"One of the most important things I tried to stress is to be prayerful. He is a very spiritual kid. To do that, and to stay focused, and to realize that you have to have an education. Anything can happen to your body and you have to have a backup plan. Trying to keep him focused with that was kind of hard because he's had so much attention, so much of the limelight. Keeping him grounded with that was a challenge."
Perkins transferred in from Kalamazoo Central having not played a varsity down. He learned quickly though, starting both ways for Washington last season and standing out at running back and outside linebacker. As his play increasingly got better and the colleges began noticing, mom also took notice and made sure she guided him.
"Last year, I saw things escalating and we were able to sit down and talk to him. Not only were things escalating athletically, but he was changing as an individual. He's 18 now, so that was a really really hard challenge trying to keep everything balanced; saying, you're going to be a young man now, not just an athlete. There are decisions you're going to have to make that will shape your future, not just as an athlete, but as a man."
From no offers, to early offers from Ohio, Bowling Green, and others, to over twenty and now bound for South Bend, Perkins has seen his stock skyrocket over the last year. For Henry, it has been difficult to even quantify the feeling of knowing her son will be a member of the Fighting Irish.
"I don't think [it has sunk in yet]. I think it will be one of those aha moments. Maybe when he leaves. I'm a mom. Right now, I still have him a little bit, but when he's gone, it will probably sink in."
So what will seeing him run out of the tunnel for the first time be like?
"Oh, I just hope I can stand and not pass out," she admits.
Even more exciting will be watching him graduate.
"Oh, that's going to be so awesome. That will be the time that everything will sink in and we can say we've made it. Now we've made it."