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Opinion: A Tale of Two Players at Jax State
JACKSONVILLE - It wasn’t really a tale of two colleges, but there was quite a contrast. In the theatre-type media room downstairs, quarterback Ryan Perrilloux sat at a table down front and center. Head coach Jack Crowe had just left the room after conducting his preseason press conference.
There were a few dozen people in the room and the table held maybe six television mikes and a dozen or so tape recorders. Many of the media people were there because of this young man who was the top high school player in the nation when he signed with LSU three years ago, but had transferred to Jacksonville State in May.
Upstairs where lunch was served earlier half a dozen players were seated at tables around the room, ready to talk to the writers as they came up from the main media room.
One of those players was Maurice Dupree, a wide receiver and one of the nation’s top kick return specialists. There were two writers sitting at his table, but no TV mikes. However, from time to time a still photographer would walk up and snap his picture.
Perrilloux looked like he’d just stepped out of a fashion magazine, with golf shirt, trousers and neat dress shoes. Actually, he’d been in class. He was polite, low key and answered every question, once even replying “I’m not a thug” which seems obvious from his demeanor.
One question he was asked was what it had been like, coming from a high-profile school such as LSU to a small-town environment at Jacksonville State.
“I think the biggest change is how small the classes are here. I’ve gone from having 300 in a class at LSU to having 15 or 20 in a class here. That’s the biggest difference,” Perrilloux said.
That was the man who has taken over the leadership of the Jacksonville State football team; talking about classes, and pointing out with pride that he is on track to graduate on time.
This isn’t to say that the athletes upstairs are not just as proud of their academics as they are their athletics. But many of the questions and answers were different.
Take Dupree, for example, and the other half of this tale of two colleges.
Where the quarterback came to Jacksonville State from a high-profile university, the receiver came to Jacksonville State from a low-profile community college. One played football for the SEC and NCAA champions; the other played basketball for Gadsden State, sitting out of football for two years
So one guy is moving down, the other up and together they are expected to give the Gamecocks a tremendous passing duet. So the pressure to succeed on both players is similar.
“When Ryan first came here all the guys were thinking that since he was coming from a big school that had won the national championship that he would be stuck up and all that,” Dupree said. “But when he got here, he was the most down to earth guy I’ve ever been around.
“We’ve been out to eat a lot, and he has jelled with everyone pretty good from the start. He didn’t mess up the team chemistry or anything; he just stepped right in and fit in with everyone.”
Dupree, who played high school football at Cherokee County, said as a receiver he has never been around a player who can control things like Ryan can; from the way he throws a football and the way he controls the offense.
“His arm is so much stronger the ball got to us quicker and harder than we’d been used to,” Dupree continued. “At first there were a lot of drops, there were a couple of guys who got hit in the face. So we started coming here earlier to get more used to catching his passes at high speed.”
During the summer workouts Dupree said he would catch 30 to 40 passes, then when they went seven-on-seven, he’d catch at least 10 more, scoring two or three touchdowns.
Dupree said he watched the SEC Championship Game and really was impressed with the play of Perrilloux.
“I thought, like, ‘wow, 20-of-30 pass completions in a game like that.’ When I heard he was coming here, I was thinking he’d be a stuck up guy, but he wasn’t.”
Dupree said the team has some other really good transfer players, and that Jacksonville should have a good team both offensively and defensively; and that it has “a pretty good shot” at winning the Ohio Valley Conference, which it has been picked to do.
A tale of two players at JSU
By Jimmy Smothers, Scribblin’ on Sports, The Gasden Times (AL)