I interviewed Jacksonville State quarterback Ryan Perrilloux briefly by phone the other day just to check and see what he was thinking moving forward with the rest of his senior season.
Perrilloux, who began his college football career at LSU, returned to action last Saturday against Florida State after being suspended for the Gamecocks’ season-opening 37-17 loss at Georgia Tech. He was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Similar disciplinary problems plagued him at LSU – he was suspended at least three times – and eventually was kicked off the team by head coach Les Miles.
He transferred to Jacksonville State in the spring of 2008 and had a brilliant junior season with the Gamecocks, passing for 2,318 yards and 19 touchdowns, while throwing 13 interceptions. He also rushed for 368 yards and seven touchdowns.
In his first game this season, Perrilloux almost engineered a monumental upset at Florida State. He threw for 213 yards and a first-quarter touchdown and ran for 39 yards, but the Seminoles scored two touchdowns in the final 35 seconds to escape with a 19-9 victory. The second of those two touchdowns came when Perrilloux fumbled and Florida State’s Kevin McNeil returned it 33 yards for a score.
Despite the disheartening loss, Perrilloux was just glad to be playing again. He was named the Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
“It was good, it was fun and it was exciting to get back on the field,” Perrilloux said. “I missed playing a lot that first game. I’m a player who wants to be on the field.
"I did what I could to help our team win. I played my role. Of course it was disappointing to lose. Now our focus is to go out and win the next ball game.”
Focus was a word that kept coming up in the interview – as if Perrilloux was trying to convince us that his off-the-field troubles are really behind him this time. They had better if he wants a chance to play at the next level.
Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe said 10 NFL scouts already have come by to check out Perrilloux and he expects all 32 NFL teams to take a look at his quarterback before the season is over.
Crowe praised Perrilloux for his performance against Florida State.
“Ryan is a great player,” Crowe said. “No disrespect to (FSU quarterback Christian) Ponder, but he was the best quarterback on that field and he is going to be the best quarterback on every field we play on.
“He is dealing with having to become whatever is needed, where the match-ups are and where he can benefit, but he has to carry that tough load. He will stand in there and he will do the tough work. We have got to be smart with him and he has to be smart with the game plan every week to stay inside the system and make the system work. But, I thought under those circumstances, he showed enormous toughness. We had some offensive production and I think he was the key to it.”
Perrilloux understands as he goes so go the Gamecocks. And he understands what this season means to his possible future in the NFL.
“It's extremely important because this team is counting on me to be on the field,” Perrilloux said. “As far as the off-the-field thing it was just bad circumstances. I just have to stay focused, do what I can and block the other things out.”
Jacksonville State (0-2) travels to Huntsville Saturday to play in-state rival Alabama A&M, which off to a 2-0 start.
“A&M has a good football team,” Perrilloux said. “We’ve got to go out and compete as well as we can. We’re definitely looking for our first win. We’ve got to play a complete game and stay focused.”
Time will tell if Perrilloux can stay focused – off the field as well as on.