Perrilloux's uphill climb to NFL job starts with Vikings tryout

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Ryan Perrilloux's college career quietly ended without the promise of a pro contract, the once-prized quarterback's stock plummeting out of the draft and to the point where all he had was a tryout invitation from the Minnesota Vikings.

His status as a coveted recruit long expired, Perrilloux is trying to rebuild a reputation tarnished by off-the-field trouble at LSU and prove he has NFL-caliber skills.

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"It's humbling," said Perrilloux, who took part in Minnesota's rookie minicamp Friday. "I definitely had to re-evaluate myself and find different ways to handle different situations. I think throughout all of this I became a better person."

Widely considered the top quarterback recruit in the country when he came out of high school in Louisiana, Perrilloux was frequently in trouble at LSU -- missing classes and meetings and also running afoul of the law. Perrilloux played in spurts as a sophomore in 2007 for the Tigers on their BCS national title team, filling in for starter Matt Flynn in the Southeastern Conference Championship and earning the MVP award for the game. But coach Les Miles kicked Perrilloux off the team the following spring.

"It's been tough, but I'm a worker and a perseverer and through the grace of God, He brought me through," Perrilloux said. "I'm just excited to be where I am today."

Perrilloux transferred to Jacksonville State, an Football Championship Subdivision-level school in Alabama, and was selected the Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year as a senior. He set several single-season school records in two seasons and finished with 42 career touchdown passes, the third-most in program history.

"He can throw it with anybody," said Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe, adding: "He loves to lead. He loves to practice. First one in, last one out. He studies all the checks. He's a thinking man's quarterback, but he also is not going to overthink the game."

Crowe was once the offensive coordinator at Auburn when Bo Jackson was a star running back. Jackson was the first pick in the 1986 NFL Draft.

"From a talent evaluation standpoint, he's right there with Bo," Crowe said.

It's the character concerns, of course, that are holding back Perrilloux. But Crowe said he was impressed, estimating that 90 percent of the people he contacted about Perrilloux before he came gave him a positive report.

"The longer I was with him, the more I thought of him," the coach said. "Are there reasons why that this perception is out there? Yes, there are. Does he make bad non-football decisions? Yes. Is he a thug? No. Drug issues? Zero. He was in a little one-horse town that had one bar with everybody set to catch him, and he had not one problem in two years. You cannot hide. There was nobody covering up his butt, either. Everybody who knows me knows I don't play that game."

Perrilloux said he tried to block out the negative public perception and simply focus on positive thinking at Jacksonville State.

"I was around a great group of people, with coach Crowe and those guys. They just helped me re-establish myself. It was good for me, just being in that area," Perrilloux said, adding: "I just tried to lay down a good foundation for the NFL to see."

Perrilloux's agent, Bus Cook, also represents Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. In fact, Perrilloux has been working out in Hattiesburg, Miss., with the same trainer as Favre and received some advice from the 40-year-old quarterback when they saw each other last week.

The Vikings have Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels as backups for Favre, who has yet to decide whether to return for another season, and they also signed undrafted free agent R.J. Archer from William and Mary.

Even if Favre comes back, he probably won't commit soon -- perhaps not until training camp is over. Vikings coach Brad Childress said four quarterbacks isn't too many to have for practice, so it's possible Perrilloux could be offered a contract if he shows enough potential.

"I find him to be a humble kid here, and I'm not judging him backwards," Childress said. "I'm judging him from forwards."

That's fine by Perrilloux.

"I'm just here to work," he said. "I'm here to do whatever they ask me to do. Whatever decisions they make after this, I'm going to live with it. I just want to thank this organization for giving me an opportunity."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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