After Tumultuous Past, Ryan Perrilloux Seeking Success in UFL
When Perrilloux, one of the more promising quarterbacks to come along in the past decade, says he has no regrets over a spate of off-field incidents that nearly derailed his career, it sounds like a denial of Clemens-esque proportions.
Yet, Perrilloux quickly makes it clear that the reason he has no interest in looking back and engaging in woulda-coulda-shoulda discussions over past missteps is because he knows it's an exercise in futility.
"You can't control what people think about you," Perrilloux said. "My motto is, just do it right every day. It's always easier to do it right the first time than not to do it right and have to try and fix it."
Not doing it right during the turbulent early years of his college career was likely the reason Perrilloux was bypassed in April's NFL Draft. Instead, he is preparing for his first professional season as a backup with the Hartford Colonials of the fledgling United Football League, which will kick off its second season Saturday.
The 23-year-old Perrilloux has taken a circuitous route to the Colonials, having been booted off the team at Louisiana State in 2008 following a string of disciplinary infractions and winding up at FCS Jacksonville State (formerly Division I-AA) for his final two seasons.
"I had some issues in college that I'm not proud of," Perrilloux admits. "People perceive me for things I've done when I was 18, 19 years old ... (when) my head blew up a little.
"But, hey, that's over with. I can only control what I can control from here on out."
By all accounts, Perrilloux is doing just that with the Colonials. Hartford coach and general manager Chris Palmer, owner of a resume that includes 20 NFL seasons, is effusive in his praise of how Perrilloux has conducted himself in camp.
"I'm very happy with what he's doing compared to some rookies I've had in the National Football League," Palmer said. "The talent was there, it was just a question of whether he will do the right thing.
"He is thirsty for knowledge. He wants to be the best football player he can be."
Palmer knows a bit about gauging talent at the quarterback position. The former Cleveland Browns head coach is widely acknowledged as a quarterback guru, working with Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots and Eli Manning of the New York Giants when their respective teams got to the Super Bowl.
Palmer likens Perrilloux to current Dallas Cowboys starter Tony Romo, who also starred in the Ohio Valley Conference. Perrilloux, who led LSU to a victory in the SEC championship game in one of his two starts, threw for 23 touchdowns and two interceptions last season at Jacksonville State.
"From a talent standpoint, there's no question he should have been drafted (by the NFL)," Palmer said. "I know of four or five teams in the NFL who are looking at him. ... His talent will allow him to play at that level."
Talent alone will not guarantee anything, which is one of the reasons Palmer decided to room Perrilloux with Colonials starter Josh McCown, a veteran of eight NFL seasons.
The pairing has proved to be beneficial for both quarterbacks. McCown, who spurned an offer from the Chicago Bears to compete for a backup role, clearly is relishing his mentor's role -- even though he laughed that Perrilloux is "wearing him out" with the endless questions.
"If Ryan goes on to become a professional quarterback, it's a good situation for him and not a bad deal for me," McCown said. "He's a very gifted kid. The arm strength is the first thing you notice. ... We have to get him to become a passer and not a thrower."
The reputation that preceded Perrilloux to Hartford has not been evident to McCown.
"He's made some bad choices and he doesn't make a lot of excuses for that," McCown said. "That's very admirable in itself and shows a certain level of maturity."
Perrilloux readily credits McCown for helping to polish his game and admits to continually "nitpicking" his roommate's brain.
Pulling out a picture of his fiance and 2-year-old daughter, Ryleigh, Perrilloux said he feels a "responsibility" to max out his considerable talents that produced 155 touchdowns and more than 12,000 total yards in high school. It's another reason he's grateful for McCown's presence.
"What he's teaching me is just getting ready for life," Perrilloux said. "Looking at how he lives his life is a perfect model to learn from."