The Montreal Alouettes have the quarterback of the future on their roster, they just don’t know who he is. Johnny Manziel progressed during the last half of the season but coach Mike Sherman is not ready to anoint him the starter. With five quarterbacks signed for the 2019 season, Montreal will have intense competition in training camp. According to general manager Kavis Reed, the winner of that competition will be given ample opportunity to succeed.
The following series will analyze each Montreal Alouettes quarterback prospect. College stats and any former CFL playing time will be looked at as well as where each quarterback could potentially end up within the organization. First up was Matthew Shiltz and next in the queue is International quarterback Antonio Pipkin
Division II All-American
What is Antonio Pipkin’s background? Pipkin played for the Tiffin University Dragons, a Division II school, from 2013 to 2017. While he only started one game in the 2013 season, Pipkin showed promise and eventually started during the 2015-16 season. Deadly accurate with the ball, Pipkin completed around 64% of his passes for a 57:12 touchdown to interception ratio over two years of starts.
He also ran well. Over two seasons as a starter Pipkin amassed 1,479 rushing yards for an average of 5.8 yards per carry. In recognition of his prolific 2016-17 season, the league named Pipkin to the Division II All-American team. Pipkin attended the 2017 Senior Bowl as the lone skill player from Division II. While he did throw two interceptions, Pipkin managed to meet with at least one NFL team.
Pipkin faced an uphill battle to break into the NFL. NFL.com gave Pipkin credit for his ability to produce with his legs, however, it noted that his 6’1” height put him as short for the position. The report also stated he wasn’t able to stick with reading his progressions. NFL teams seemed to agree and Pipkin went undrafted. He eventually signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent but was subsequently released.
The Alouettes added Antonio Pipkin to their active roster on July 5, 2017. After taking the time to adapt to the peculiarities of the Canadian game, Pipkin saw action in relief at the end of the year. He went two for nine in passing with five yards rushing. The 2018 season started poorly for Pipkin. After seeing limited action in the pre-season, Pipkin was the odd man out at the end of the Alouettes quarterback competition. The Alouettes released him on June 19. A second chance soon appeared.
After placing Matthew Shiltz on the one-game injured list and releasing Garrett Fugate at the end of July, the Alouettes needed to shore up their quarterback depth. They re-signed Pipkin and he quickly re-integrated into the team. Starting for two games in place of the injured Manziel, Pipkin amassed over 700 yards passing and 100 yards rushing but threw for four interceptions. Pipkin saw reduced playing time once Manziel returned.
However, once the playoffs were mathematically out of reach, the Alouettes started to rotate quarterbacks in an effort to see what they had. Over six games Pipkin ended up with 1,120 yards passing with three passing touchdowns and a worrying eight interceptions. Pipkin’s saving grace was his ability to create opportunities via run plays ending the year with eight rushing touchdowns.
For Antonio Pipkin, the future is ripe for the taking. Seasoned in the 2018 season, Pipkin should be capable of completing his adjustments to the Canadian game in 2019. His throwing accuracy and running ability give him the skill set needed to compete against his fellow quarterbacks, especially Manziel.
Given ample opportunity in training camp and a strong showing it would not be out of the question for Pipkin to become the Alouettes starting quarterback by the first week of the 2019 season.
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images