In high school, Luis Perez was competing all throughout California, Arizona and even Las Vegas. He could throw a ball as well, if not better, than anyone else. Perez was on a fast track to a professional career that would allow him to be in the sport he loved until he was 40 or 50-years-old.
But then he realized bowling was no longer the sport he wanted to pursue.
Perez, 23, has thrown 12 perfect games since he took up the sport as a sophomore in high school and was in love with it, from the mental toughness it takes to stand alone on the lane to the physical attributes only other bowlers can relate to. That was his place.
— Luis Perez (@PerezLuisQB) July 28, 2017
After growing up playing quarterback at the pee-wee level, Perez was moved to tight end as a freshman at Otay Ranch High School (Chula Vista, Calif.), a position where he was primarily used as a blocker and an afterthought playmaker. He felt his passion for the game dwindle to the point he traded in his spikes and nights on the grass for the smooth sneaks gliding along the slippery wood.
However, he couldn’t quite shake the dream he had as a kid.
Perez wanted to be a quarterback in the NFL.
After soaking in the final high school home football game from the bleachers as a senior, Perez knew he wanted back in. He wanted to be on that field. He wanted the game he grew up on.
“It was the last game and I see all my [former] teammates running out of the tunnel and jumping around on the sidelines,” Perez told Texas Monthly. “Just having fun. You can’t describe that moment, but for me it was the turning moment, where I just said, ‘You know what? I’m gonna pursue football. I don’t care what’s gonna happen, but I am all in, 100 percent.’ And I did.”
So, after not playing a down of varsity football, Perez enrolled at Southwestern College, a Junior College located outside San Diego, and walked onto the football team as the ninth-string quarterback.
After proving his worth and rising to QB2, Perez had his chance to shine after an injury brought him into the game. He lasted all of three games as the starter. Perez broke his leg.
“I was devastated, I was so close to where I wanted to be,” he told NCAA.com. “But then I ended up beating out the San Diego player of the year my sophomore year. I started, but we both played a lot. Then A&M-Commerce called me up. It was a no-brainer for me.”
Perez transferred to D-II Texas A&M-Commerce, about 70 miles outside of Dallas, to have his first real shot at playing quarterback for a contender. He did not disappoint.
His first year starting at A&M-Commerce, Perez threw for 3,326 yards, 32 TDs and just five interceptions in 12 games on his way to being named an honorable mention All-American and leading the Lions to their first playoff win since 1991. He was just getting started.
As a senior, Perez made his previous numbers look minuscule.
Last season, he threw for 5,001 yards, completed 70.6 percent of his passes, finished with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 46:11 and led A&M Commerce to its first national title since 1972. For his elite play, Perez was named the 2017 Harlon Hill Trophy winner for the best player in D-II football (the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy).
While rising from a non-football player to ninth-stringer to JuCo starter to national champion and Harlon Hill winner seems like a lot, Perez’ goal was not complete. Until now.
After not being drafted and slipping through the subsequent cracks, Perez earned a tryout session with the Los Angeles Rams and an invitation to Rookie Minicamp.
The team announced Tuesday it has officially signed Perez.
junior college walk-on,
9th QB on depth chart,
named starter by default,
won starting job,
won conference title,
won national title,
won Harlon Hill.
1st Mexican-American QB to start at A&M-Commerce.
What’s your story? https://t.co/XlcRuPtHlK
— Rich Bartel (@CoachRichBartel) May 14, 2018
Perez will enter the Rams’ minicamp as the fourth-string quarterback, behind Jared Goff, Sean Mannion and Brandon Allen.
He will have to compete for a spot on the roster, let alone a spot at actual playing time, but Perez has shown a little competition has never slowed him down.