As a society we are absolutely enamored with the idea of potential. Wishing or daydreaming of something is often times more exciting or even more tolerable than reality. In the same way we are addicted to the playing the lottery, we are addicted to the National signing Day. Dreaming about a high schooler’s potential to resurrect your favorite college football program has been proven to be fully misguided, however every year we throw our full attention to the next best thing, a 17 year old from no one knows where Mississippi that will be treated like a savior. Perhaps our hopes were never as misguided as they were when we placed them in Ryan Perrilloux.
Busts, or players who don’t turn out to be what we as a cult following expect them be are inevitable. Perrilloux had many thinking of what went wrong, or what might have been, but Perrilloux might forever have Texas Longhorn fans thinking of what never was.
Regarded by many as the top quarterback prospect from the 2005 recruiting class, Perrilloux’s draft day experience might have been like no one else’s. Perrilloux shocked the nation by changing his mind. It was a foregone conclusion that Perrilloux was going to chose Mack Brown and the Texas LongHorns, but he stunned everybody by signing on the dotted line to go to LSU.
LSU was not the place for Perrilloux. Constantly finding himself in the midst of trouble and controversy, Perrilloux’s behavior off the field overshadowed his one shining moment on the field. Perrilloux was the MVP of the SEC Championship game in 2007, while Matt Flynn was out with an injury, but only played two snaps in the National Championship game. More trouble followed Perrilloux and he was dismissed from the program in May of 2008.
The shenanigans that Perrilloux got involved in, were strange and unusual, everything from allegedly using a fake 20 dollar bill to fill up his gas tank (he might’ve gotten in more trouble if he used a real 20 dollar bill from a booster) to using his brothers ID to get into a club that required you to be over 21. Although the things Perrilloux did broke the law, none of his actions would make you think that Perrilloux is some gang banger with a laundry list of felony charges; he more resembled a misguided kid who did immature things that lead to a negative reputation.
With that being said, the path that Perrilloux went down could have been extremely different. It could’ve been that if Perrilloux lived in a different state, or attended another university, or had a different coach, or was involved in a different quarterback situation, or maybe just had a different roommate; his path would have been different.
The Texas Longhorns had just got done developing their own dual threat quarterback. Vince Young lead the Longhrons to a National Title, and was drafted in the first round. Perrilloux could have been the next in line. The scenarios of possible outcomes are endless for a student athlete, and the pressure that is placed upon these young men is insane.
Although Perrilloux was dismissed from LSU, he was nabbed up by Jackson State and was able to be a college quarterback starter. Despite the fact that Perrrilloux had more natural ability and tools then some quarterbacks that were drafted into the NFL, Perrilloux was not drafted. However he spent two years on the New York Giants practice squad. Despite never playing a snap in the NFL Perrilloux is still trying to reach his dream, he is currently a quarterback for the New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League.
Perrilloux could have been a bust even without the legal issues, if he had attended a different school, or was a starting quarterback from day one; there are a number of different things that could have derailed his insane tools and super star potential. The cautionary tale of Ryan Perrilloux isn’t anything that is that scathing, in fact the college football cult fandom has more to learn from Perrilloux than a player of similar stature or ability can learn; sometimes its just bad luck.
You could write a novel about players that didn’t turn out to be what they were supposed to be, in fact ESPN’s 30 for 30 has had a great deal of success highlighting the failures of others. Every year we parade 17 and 18 year olds through a sheared of media driven hype and mismatched hats to chose from, trying to project what they will look like as 23 and 24 year olds, we are reminded that every tale is different ,every player is unique, and every player will experience his own journey of trials and tribulations; only level a handful that will become superstars.