Southern’s Wynton Perro is back where he started

After trying his hand at safety and linebacker the past two seasons, Southern junior Wynton Perro has finally found his way back into the offensive backfield.

Perro entered fall camp Thursday as a candidate to back up star signal-caller Dray Joseph, returning to the position he played throughout high school at Houston’s Booker T. Washington. All the way back to the position he always thought he’d play in college.

“I love playing quarterback,” he said. “This is my first love since I was little, so it’s a great feeling being back at this position and being in a position where I can help the team if called upon.”

Perro arrived at Southern with Joseph in 2010 and spent his first year on campus as a redshirt. Then J.P. Douglas signed with the Jaguars, creating a bit of a logjam of underclassmen at the position.

Perro gave safety a shot in 2011, then moved to linebacker last season. That’s twice as much defense as he ever played in high school.

But when Douglas left the program after spending last fall as Joseph’s backup, Southern was left with razor-thin depth at the game’s most glamorous position.

Joseph led the Southwestern Athletic Conference in passing last season and returns for his senior year as the unquestioned leader of the offense. No other player on the team has played a snap at the position in college.

“I just kept grinding,” Perro said. “I just kept working hard, kept doing whatever the team and the coaches wanted me to do.”

Perro, who was Joseph’s backup during spring practice, is competing with true freshmen Deonte Shorts and Francis Kennah to earn that job this fall.

“All those guys have been very attentive in meetings and are accepting coaching,” Southern quarterbacks coach Chad Germany said. “They’re really cerebral guys I think could all help us if we need them.”

Kennah, from Robbinsdale, Minn., has the athletic ability to play another position but will have his first shot at making an impression behind center. Shorts earned District 7-1A MVP recognition at Southern Lab last season and made the short trip across campus in the hopes of someday starring for the hometown team.

Both freshmen enrolled in summer classes and went through the team’s summer strength and conditioning program. But they lack the experience of Perro, who had all of spring practice to familiarize himself with the offense.

“If Dray goes down, it’s up to me or any one of the other guys to step up and help this program continue to win games,” he said. “That’s what I plan on doing if anything like that happens — God forbid.”

Perro knows he is not only competing to become Joseph’s insurance policy, but also to get a head start in the race for the starting job next year.

“I’m going to keep competing,” he said. “That’s what I have been doing since I got here, and I’m going to keep doing it until I leave.”