FSU-Jacksonville State: The Tale of Perriloux

Jeff KessockFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2009

This weekend, the Seminoles face off against a bit of history. That "history" has a long and winding road, and it is worth noting in order to aid your future, you must mind the past.

On National Signing Day in 2005, a blue-chip Texas Longhorns recruit shocked the college football scene by announcing he would play for the new LSU head coach, Les Miles.

His name? Ryan Perriloux.

Mr. P, one of the best high school dual-threats in the 2005 class, had accolades that stacked up against, well, anyone. In his time at the NCAA level, he was the backup for JaMarcus Russell, a 2004 Hall Trophy winner, a Parade High School All-American, Louisiana's Mr. Football, and (Canton, Ohio) Touchdown Club's National Player of the Year.

Add to that list...Jacksonville State quarterback?

So much for the Seminoles playing a cupcake.

Ryan Perriloux was a highly touted East St. John Prep athlete from the moment he stepped on the Baton Rouge campus that fall in 2005. Some dubbed him the next "Donovan McNabb." LSU fans and alumni saw him as much more. They saw him as the future—the future of an already dominant, national championship-caliber LSU program.

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All of the hype surrounding the young talent who "could have won a Heisman" would become a distant memory over the next 4 years.

Let's rewind to 2006.

With the talented quarterback opting to redshirt his freshmen year in 2005 in order to learn LSU offensive coordinator (and future FSU Head Coach) Jimbo Fisher's complex system, Perriloux found himself an awkward third on the depth chart behind future first-round draft pick JaMarcus Russell and junior Matt Flynn.

Fisher saw a lot of promise in Perriloux for the long term, and was once quoted as saying Perriloux's throwing abilities were like "flicking a gnat off of [his] finger." Unfortunately, Perriloux couldn't wait much longer, and by season's end he had only "flicked" one "gnat."

With JaMarcus' departure to the NFL during the offseason, 2007 offered the maturing passer a new year and a new chance as head signal caller. But Perriloux's determination to compete for a starting position would again suffer setback. Seemingly within reach, Mr. Perriloux managed to be, well, a Perri-loser. 

In the spring, attempting to gain entrance on a Hollywood Casino Boat with some friends, he was charged with a misdemeanor for using his older brother's identification to get in. Coach Miles suspended Ryan for his indiscretion leading up to the start of the season, but with a lack of depth at the QB position, Perriloux would eventually be permitted back on the team in time—only to be relegated to backup duty again, losing out on the starting spot filled by more experienced senior Matt Flynn.

After gaining some meaningful playing time against Middle Tennessee State less than a month later, Perriloux would be in trouble again—this time for fighting at a local bar in Baton Rouge. The charges would later be dropped, but after just one more game, albeit a very big game—the SEC Championship vs. Tennessee, Perriloux would be dropped as well.

Following the completion of LSU's National Championship season in 2007, Perriloux was suspended two more times for undisclosed violations of team rules. Sources close to the school would later confirm that some of the rules violated included failing a drug test, missing team meetings, skipping classes, and foregoing mandatory workouts.

The culmination of these events forced Les Miles' hand and found Ryan Perriloux, a troubled but talented passer, in a downward spiral that threatened not only his college career as a player, but his entire future.

Where Miles and the staff at LSU saw a problem, Jack Crowe—Head Coach of the FCS Division Jacksonville State Gamecocks, saw a possible solution. Willing to take a chance on the talented young man, Crowe was in need of a quarterback to anchor his 2008 season.

Ryan Perriloux was homeless, and the fit just seemed logical. With JSU located in Eastern Alabama—a quiet, tucked-away place far removed from the pressures of the superstar lifestyle in Baton Rouge—the move for Perriloux seemed like a welcome change.

After several discussions between coach Crowe and former coach Les Miles—with Miles fully supporting the troubled phenom—Crowe extended Perriloux an opportunity that he had been wanting for nearly four painful years—a starting role under center. Suddenly, a once downtrodden young man who squandered years of eligibility now had a new lease on life, playing football.

This new lease would certainly come with conditions. Coach Crowe instituted special rules and a zero-tolerance policy on Perriloux designed to keep the young man focused on the point of redemption: hard work. In his first year under Coach Crowe, Perriloux managed to lead the Gamecocks to an impressive 8-3 season, completing 174 of 276 passes for 2,199 yards and 19 touchdowns. Coach Crowe credits the solid transition primarily on the communication and support of Coach Miles.

It's now 2009, and Perriloux has been practicing hard, week in and week out. But even with Ryan's remarkable opportunity to start fresh and prove himself at Jacksonville State, his time at the FCS level has not been without incident. Just this year, he managed to find himself suspended for the season opener against Georgia Tech due to a violation of team rules. 

With week two approaching and Perriloux's off-field transgressions settled, Perriloux will get a chance to play against one of the men who coached and developed him as a young quarterback nearly four seasons ago.

Jimbo Fisher knows what he is capable of in this weekend's matchup. With a tired FSU team that has struggled following other Labor Day game hangovers, this could be a trap game that FSU's defense may not be ready for.

Will Ryan Perriloux be able to hang one up against his former mentor?

Will Jimbo Fisher's knowledge of the young signal caller allow FSU to shape-shift Mickey's experimental defense known as the "prowler?"

Could Ryan Perriloux spoil the day and finally live up to his billing?

If last week's 20-point win by Georgia Tech over JSU is any indication, it would appear that FSU should be safe—rest or no rest. The talent around Perriloux is not like that of the FCS Champs, the Richmond Spiders, and FSU's offense is no cellar-dweller like the Duke Blue Devils.

Florida State will see a talented QB, sure. But with the looming loss to Miami, there's little chance that Perriloux's shot at redemption will equate to much more than an impressive outing en route to a loss.

One thing is for sure: Come Saturday, FSU had better prepare for JSU like any other program. It's not every day an FCS team has a player of Ryan Perriloux's talent under center. He was—and still is—one of the best prospects of the 2005 recruiting class.

For the FSU fans who might be wondering, yep—Bobby made him an offer to play at FSU, too.

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