Graphic and article by Pat Pryor, @patpryorgraphic
A Pro Bowler?
After a wild first three weeks, the Guardians have finally established their starting quarterback over the past two games. His name? Luis Francisco Perez. His resume? Long. He never played varsity football in high school and came into college with no real quarterbacking experience. Instead, he was a star bowler. In his early years, bowling was the focus. To his family, football was on the backburner. He was supposed to be going to college through a bowling scholarship. According to the LA times, he bowled 12 perfect games in his career. During high school, he stopped playing football to bowl.
Becoming a Quarterback
Despite seeing bowling as his future, he decided to follow his childhood dream. In a 2018 interview, he said “bowling is just not the same as football,” and in 2013 he decided to tell his coach that he wanted to play quarterback. He decided to push bowling to plan B. He credits his decision to play quarterback as looking around him in the stands and realizing he belonged on the field. When he started at Southwestern College, there were 9 quarterbacks, and he was the 9th on the depth chart. All of the odds were against him.
With 8 QBs ahead of him, he spent countless hours learning how to play quarterback.
Through asking coaches, and going on YouTube, he did well enough to get the number 4 spot. He then fought tooth and nail to get the number 2 spot. Coming to practice early and leaving late, he climbed up those two spots and was the top backup for Southwestern College. In the third game, down 14 nothing the starter went down and Luis was called on. He came back for a victory, establishing himself as the starter. After showing that he could play, he came to Texas A&M Commerce, where he redshirted his freshman year. In 2016, he won the starting job and got the Lions their first playoff win since 1991. That season he would be nominated for the Harlon Hill Award, the Division II equivalent of the Heisman. He was also first-team All Lone Star Conference, an honor he would repeat in his second year. In 2017, he led the Lions to the championship and a win. He won the Harlon Hill award and would be named to the DII All-American first team. That year he threw for 4,999 yards, 46 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions. He was truly the best in his league. Despite this, his name was never called during the 2018 draft.
He was signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent on May 14th, but he was cut before he could play a game with them. Perez’s next stop would be with the Birmingham Iron of the AAF. Perez and the Iron had a 5-3 record with a playoff spot in hand before the league folded before they could finish their inaugural season. He was paired with NFL bust Trent Richardson but otherwise lacked talented pass-catchers. He threw for 1,461 yards, 5 touchdowns and 6 interceptions with a completion percentage of 52.3. After the league folded, he was signed by the Eagles thanks to leading one of the AAF’s top teams. However, he only lasted about a month in the offseason in Philly and went to the Lions for only 4 days.
On October 15th, the XFL allocated Perez to the LA Wildcats in the XFL 2020 Draft as a tier-one quarterback. He was the only Division II quarterback to be allocated in tier 1 and is joined by Brandon Silvers (SEA) and Jordan Ta’amu (STL) as the only ones to not be on an NFL team during a game. Despite Perez looking to be the starter, the Wildcats took Josh Johnson in a supplemental draft a month later. Johnson has experience on over 10 NFL teams and was picked in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL draft. In January, Perez was traded to New York for Chad Kanoff. After being number 1 in LA, he was now third on the depth chart behind veteran Matt McGloin and former North Carolina starter Marquise Williams in New York. Once again, Luis would have to prove himself
McGloin was the clear starter and played well in a Week 1 domination over the Tampa Bay Vipers. The next week, McGloin would fail to get anything started against the DC Defenders. Marquise Williams was put in, but couldn’t do much either. The Guardians couldn’t reach 100 yards passing and lost 27-0 nothing. Perez didn’t get a snap.
The next week, down 26-3 against the Battlehawks, Perez finally got his chance. 3 passes in, he had a touchdown. Once again the last option, he finished with 4 out of 5 passes completed, 39 yards and a touchdown. With McGloin injured, Luis would start against the LA Wildcats. He went 18 out of 26, tossing 150 yards and a touchdown in a three-point win. He had gotten the job done, and once again took control in week 5.
In a 30-12 win over the Dallas Renegades, Perez threw for 229 yards, a touchdown, and his first interception, and also rushed for a one-yard TD. The offense simply clicks with him. In weeks 2 and 3, McGloin and Marquise Williams seem to lack control of the offense, but Perez can run it like a well-oiled machine. The run game improves with him in, as Darius Victor showing he’s the number 1 option, and the offensive line looks in-sync. Mekale McKay finally looked like the receiver everyone expected him to be, and Colby Pearson exploded with 95 yards receiving and a touchdown. Luis Perez has proven himself to be the best quarterback for the Guardians. Just a few years ago he was supposed to be a professional bowler, and now he’s leading the New York XFL team.