By Andy Staples
May 14, 2008

Former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux didn't get the rock star treatment during his visit to Jacksonville (Ala.) State this week.

Instead he got grilled by school president William Meehan, coach Jack Crowe and several current Gamecocks players about the actions that got him booted by Tigers coach Les Miles two weeks ago. That tough love obviously didn't bother Perrilloux. He left Jacksonville State Wednesday morning, and at about 2:45 p.m. central time, his signed scholarship forms rolled off the fax machine in the football office.

Because NCAA rules don't require a player to sit out after transferring down a division, Perrilloux can play immediately for Jacksonville State, which competes in the Ohio Valley Conference of the Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA). Perrilloux likely will play immediately, because the Gamecocks don't have a scholarship quarterback on campus. The reason JSU is without a quarterback should give Perrilloux motivation to avoid the missteps that led to his dismissal at LSU. The starting job is open because Crowe recently threw incumbent Cedric Johnson off the team.

"He'll have the same accountability, I promise you," Crowe said. "There won't be a dual standard."

Every year, I-A players get booted from their teams and go in search of a I-AA home where they can play immediately. That leaves I-AA coaches wrestling with several daunting philosophical questions. Who deserves a second chance, and does immense talent make that second chance easier to get?

Crowe, who was Bo Jackson's offensive coordinator at Auburn and the head coach at Arkansas in 1991, did share some of his philosophy when confronted with a potentially troubled transfer from a power conference school. Most important, Crowe said, are "due diligence and objectivity." In other words, ask all the relevant questions and don't get caught up dreaming about what the player could do for your team lest that cloud judgment.

Crowe has taken in former SEC players before. Cornerback Montae Pitts saw his playing time decrease at Auburn, and after a 2006 arrest on a DUI charge, Pitts took up permanent residence in coach Tommy Tuberville's doghouse. Pitts transferred to Jacksonville State, where he played well enough as a senior to get a shot in the Canadian Football League.

Before he steps on campus, the 6-foot-3, 227-pound Perrilloux will be the highest profile player in Jacksonville State history. Before he made headlines for his role in a fight, for trying to enter a casino with another person's ID or for missing classes and team meetings, Perrilloux was one of the nation's most sought after recruits. In 2005, several publications ranked Perrilloux the nation's top quarterback. Perrilloux also won the MVP award at the 2007 SEC title game after he subbed for injured Matt Flynn and led LSU past Tennessee. If Perrilloux lives up to his billing, he could do for the Gamecocks what Randy Moss did for Marshall in 1996.

Virginia defensive coordinator Bob Pruett coached that Marshall team, and he was the one who decided Moss deserved another chance. Moss, from Rand, W.Va., had been stripped of a scholarship to Notre Dame after an arrest following a fight at his high school. Moss went to Florida State and redshirted, but Bobby Bowden booted Moss after he tested positive for marijuana when he reported to jail to serve his sentence.

Pruett, who had recruited Moss while defensive coordinator at Florida, knew all the details of the fight. He knew Moss and his family. Pruett thought Moss could thrive in the proper environment. Pruett was correct. As a freshman, Moss caught 78 passes for 1,709 yards and 28 touchdowns and helped Marshall win the I-AA national title. He also went to class and did everything Pruett asked of him.

"No one person has the same set of issues," Pruett said. "There was never any hesitation in my mind that Randy wouldn't come there and be a very successful and productive student. ... It was a win-win situation."

Pruett warns that coaches considering transfers must do their homework. Their program has to fit the player, or they could be inviting more issues. "If it's like oil and water, it doesn't matter how good an athlete they are," Pruett says. "It's not going to work."

While vetting Perrilloux, Crowe called former high school and college coaches. He called support staff at LSU. After gathering all the information, Crowe had to ask himself a question: Would I have kicked this player off my team for doing the same things? "I'm not afraid to give talent a chance," Crowe said, "but it's not all about talent."

Alabama A&M coach Anthony Jones, who tried to land Perrilloux, also said talent isn't the only factor he considers. "You look into all those things," Jones said. "If there's a marriage there, you push for it. If there's not, you don't."

Crowe said coaches must make an informed guess about the player's character and has his own test. "Look somebody in the eye," Crowe said, "and see if they squirm when they tell the story."

Crowe admits he has been conned on occasion, but 35 years of coaching at the college level have honed his evaluation skills. If Crowe walks away satisfied with the player's answers, then he'll offer that player a roster spot. If the player accepts, Crowe will offer one more piece of advice. That second chance, more than likely, is a last chance. Behave accordingly.

"[The player] knows he's in the fourth quarter," Crowe said. "That's a powerful management tool."

The top player in the nation's top-ranked recruiting class is bound to feel some pressure when he starts school, but thanks to out-of-control recruiting hype, incoming Alabama receiver Julio Jones nearly found himself with an additional job.

With 17 write-in votes, Jones finished third last month in the race for Alabama student government association president, The Crimson White student newspaper reported. Jones was the most popular write-in candidate, beating out his future coach, Nick Saban, Barack Obama and Kermit the Frog.

Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) quarterback Matt Barkley is the second member of the class of 2009 to accept a bid to the EA Sports Elite 11 camp, the nation's most prestigious quarterback camp. Barkley, a USC commitment, joins Tampa (Fla.) Plant quarterback Aaron Murray, who committed to Georgia last month.

Camp organizers have had a keen eye for talent over the years. In fact, the past three quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy (USC's Matt Leinart, Ohio State's Troy Smith and Florida's Tim Tebow) are Elite 11 alumni.

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