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Vegas Vipers announce their QBs before XFL draft

Luis Perez has been down this road.

The former Division II player of the year and national champion has played in the AAF, XFL and USFL between brief stints on three NFL rosters before landing again in the reincarnated XFL, where he was named one of two quarterbacks for the Vegas Vipers during a Tuesday presentation at the UFC Apex.

Seven of the league’s eight teams announced the two quarterbacks assigned to them before the inaugural draft, which will take place Wednesday and Thursday at the UFC Apex. The D.C. Defenders announced one quarterback.

“I’ve been very grateful to be able to play so much football,” said Perez, who won the Harlon Hill Trophy in his final season at Texas A&M Commerce in 2017. “There’s a lot of guys that never got the opportunity to play anywhere again after college. Whether I’m bouncing around a bunch of different leagues or on one team my whole career, I’m still playing football and doing what I love while improving my game.”

The work he put on tape in the USFL last spring earned him a second training camp with the Rams this year, but he was released in August.

His competition in the Vipers’ quarterback room will come from Jalan McClendon, who spent three years at North Carolina State before finishing his collegiate career at Baylor. He got some preseason NFL experience with Baltimore and Washington and also played for Los Angeles in the 2020 version of the XFL. He even played in his hometown of Charlotte for the Thunder of the American Arena League last year.

“I was telling my mom if I didn’t get a chance I was going to hang it up and start coaching,” McClendon said.

McClendon has been getting advice from longtime pro football veteran quarterback Josh Johnson, whom he played with in Los Angeles. Johnson, currently with the Broncos, has played for a record 14 NFL teams in addition to stints in the UFL, XFL and AAF. He has told McClendon to make the most of every situation because the next opportunity isn’t promised.

“If you’re a banker or in most jobs, you might know somebody or your resume might get around and get you in the door,” McClendon said. “In football, there are so many factors. There’s only so many jobs, and there are new guys getting through college every year. You’re just waiting to get the shot while having the confidence that you’re good enough to do it whenever you get the chance.”

Vipers coach Rod Woodson was pleased with the first two additions to his roster.

“Perez is very accurate,” he said. “He can throw the football, really sling it. Jalan can throw it, too, and is probably a little more athletic.”

Perez’s experience in several leagues will be advantageous, Woodson said.

“What he can teach his teammates is that it’s just ball,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re playing in the XFL or the AAF or the NFL or high school, it’s just ball. We want to make it stupid simple for our guys and let them go play.”

The Vipers will continue building their roster Wednesday. The format for the first day has players broken into four position groups with 11 rounds for each group. It starts with offensive skill players at 8:30 a.m.

After each team selects 44 players Wednesday, the teams will have three rounds of specialists Thursday, followed by 11 rounds of open drafting.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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