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Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Louisiana QB star had committed to Texas


Coach Mack Brown received a Texas-sized piece of bad news Wednesday.

Quarterback Ryan Perrilloux of Reserve, La., considered by some experts the best signal-calling prospect in the country, had given Brown and the Longhorns an oral commitment months ago but instead inked with Louisiana State.

Wednesday is National Signing Day, the first day that senior high school football players officially can agree to play for colleges in the fall.

The Houston Chronicle reported as recently as Friday, Perrilloux said he was still "100 percent committed" to the Longhorns.

But Perrilloux, USA Today's Offensive Player of the Year, apparently did not want to sit behind Texas junior-to-be Vince Young, who led the Longhorns to a dramatic 38-37 victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl on January 1.

"(Young) had a real good year," Perrilloux told The (Baton Rouge) Advocate. "I didn't want to go in and sit on the bench for two years."

Instead, Perrilloux, who also was considering Mississippi State, will compete for playing time with LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who just completed an up-and-down redshirt freshman season and recently underwent elbow surgery.

"It was best for me and best for my family," Perrilloux told College Sports TV. "The quarterback situation is great and my family will be close."

Perrilloux had become good friends with standout receiver Fred Rouse of Tallahassee, Florida. They were rumored to be a package deal, but Rouse elected to sign with his hometown team, Florida State.

Louisiana State also lost out on top defensive tackle Jerrell Powe (Waynesboro, Mississippi), who had given an oral commitment to the Tigers at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl last month but instead signed with Mississippi.

To many Division I-A teams, it must seem that the rich get richer every year on Signing Day.

Southern California, for example, crushed Oklahoma to secure a second straight national championship on Jan. 4. On Wednesday, the Trojans inked another stellar class of blue-chip athletes, including quarterback Mark Sanchez (Mission Viejo, Calif.), wide receiver Patrick Turner (Madison, Tenn.), defensive end Averell Spicer (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and linebackers Rey Maualuga (Eureka, Calif.) and Brian Cushing (Oradell, N.J.).

"It was a great opportunity that I couldn't pass up," Cushing said on CSTV. "In the end, it came down to Boston College and USC."

One player the Trojans were after but did not land was running back Jason Gwaltney of North Babylon, N.Y., who committed to West Virginia on Tuesday, electing to join half-brother Scooter Berry in Morgantown next season. A fullback, Berry is Gwaltney's high school teammate.

While several other national powers -- Oklahoma, Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas -- have landed classes loaded with blue-chip recruits, two teams securing top classes for the first time in some time are Nebraska and Iowa.

In 2004, their first season under coach Bill Callahan, the Cornhuskers struggled to their first losing campaign in 43 years, going 5-6 while struggling to learn the West Coast Offense.

But Callahan -- who guided the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl two years ago -- has inked several highly regarded players, including quarterback Harrison Beck (Clearwater, Fla.) and running back Marlon Lucky (North Hollywood, Calif.).

Iowa's Kirk Ferentz has earned a reputation as a coach who gets the most out of his players. He has guided the Hawkeyes to three straight 10-win seasons despite not landing many four- or five-star recruits.

That has changed this year, with the Hawkeyes having secured commitments from offensive lineman Dan Doering (Barrington, Ill.) and Wheaton, Illinois high school teammates Dace Richardson and Tony Moeaki, an offensive lineman and tight end, respectively.

One man not pleased with the date of National Signing Day is new Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, who for an additional four days will be the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator.

While Weis reportedly has jetted across the country trying to woo blue-chippers, his free time of late has been consumed with another stressful task -- trying to figure out how to score on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.

On Wednesday, Weis found out a piece of bad news. Lawrence Wilson, a top defensive end prospect from Akron, Ohio, signed with Ohio State. Wilson had given an oral commitment to the Fighting Irish before coach Ty Willingham was fired during the season.