In November of 2004, in St. John Parish, Louisiana, a young quarterback was leading his high school team to a dominating 50-6 win in the quarterfinals of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association's football tournament.
Meanwhile, on the other bank of the Mississippi River, high-profile quarterback Ryan Perrilloux's East St. John Wildcats were closing out an embarrassing 62-42 loss in their quarterfinal game.
Perrilloux would then go on to play recruiting musical chairs with Division I powers Texas and LSU. He would be awarded the 2004 Hall Trophy as the nation's most outstanding high school football player.
Perrilloux would be named USA Today's "Offensive Player of the Year," "National Offensive Player of the Year" by Columbus, Ohio's Touchdown Club, Louisiana's "Mr. Football," and Gatorade's "Player of the Year." He was a Parade All-American and was invited to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
After Les Miles' hiring at LSU, Perrilloux would commit to LSU with expectations of grandeur.
We all know the rest of the story. After years of immature actions and a complacent attitude, the highly-touted recruit would be dismissed in May of 2008 after only starting two games for the Tigers.
But what about the other quarterback in this story? The one that would eventually lead his West St. John Rams to a Class 2A Louisiana State Championship. The one that entertained only one Division I scholarship offer. The one who played in the giant shadow of the great Ryan Perrilloux. What happened to Juan Joseph?
On Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, the Millsaps Majors will line up on Harper Davis Field in Jackson, Mississippi as the D3Football.com No. 4-ranked team in the nation, and the top seed in the Division III Football Tournament South Region. They will field an offense that averages over 445 yards and 44 points per game.
And they will be led by a 6'1", 188-pound senior quarterback that has passed for 28 touchdowns, run for four more, and is eighth in the nation in total offense. That quarterback is Juan Joseph.
Under the tutelage of former Alabama head coach Mike DuBose, Joseph has flourished in the spread offense run by Hal Mumme pupil John David Caffey. Both Caffey and DuBose made it clear in a Clarion-Ledger piece in October of 2008 that "Juan could play for most anybody. He's what you want, especially in the spread offense."
But it isn't just the talent that makes Joseph such a successful signal caller for the Majors—it's his leadership too. Caffey recalls a bad Tuesday practice earlier this season. He was about to walk over and chew out the offense, but before he could get a word in, Joseph simply said, "Coach, I got this."
According to Caffey, Joseph handled the situation better than he even could. The Majors had great practices the rest of the week and won that Saturday's game by more than 42 points. That's the kind of leader he is.
But at a school like Millsaps, success on the field is only half the battle. Joseph admits that the academic load caused him to have to make adjustments in his study habits. But just as he as on the football field, Joseph has persevered. As a business administration major with a concentration in finance and marketing, he's currently riding a 3.2 GPA at one of the most strenuous liberal arts colleges in the South.
With the talent, physical tools, and leadership ability that Joseph possesses, many wonder what he's doing at a Division III school—an NCAA division that offers no athletic scholarships. He passed up an opportunity at Alcorn State—alma mater of NFL great Steve McNair—to play at a school and in a division where, as he puts it, "you play because you love to play."
It is obvious that Joseph loves to play. That's why the Majors have their eyes set on their first-ever national championship.
That might also be why fellow St. John Parish native Ryan Perrilloux doesn't.
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