Heading for the Esk-its

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

Danny Wimprine just shrugs at the suggestion he has become another chapter in the Battle of Alberta.

Forget history. The quarterback just wanted to play.

So when he received his walking papers from the Edmonton Eskimos with an invitation to join their practice roster, he bolted like a 90 m.p.h. fastball down Hwy. 2.

The Memphis product joined the Calgary Stampeders for his first workout yesterday and took his duties running the scout team as the No. 3 pivot behind Henry Burris and Jason Gesser.

"I don't think we did anything wrong," the 23-year-old said, pleading innocent to any trickery by he and his agent. "(Edmonton) wanted to sign me on the practice squad, they had a spot here so I wanted to take the best opportunity for me.

"I'm just glad I'm here now. I was cut and they wanted me for practice squad.

"Of course I would rather be the third man on the roster instead of the practice squad. This is all new to me. This is my first time going through this stuff."

However, this isn't the first time Wimprine chose one attractive sports destination over another.

As a championship-calibre high school football player in his hometown of New Orleans, Wimprine also had a pretty good heater on the baseball diamond.

Even in his late teens, he could zip in a fastball at 90 on the radar gun and George Steinbrenner's scouting staff took notice.

But Wimprine didn't even respond when the New York Yankees showed some interest after high school. He chose football instead and let somebody else live the diamond dreams.

"It wasn't much of a choice for me," Wimprine said. "After high school, I didn't care much for baseball. Football was just the love I've had since I was seven.

"It's more of a team sport. Being the quarterback, you have to rally the guys. I enjoy that a lot more than being on the mound pitching in baseball."

At the University of Memphis, Wimprine helped turn the football program around. He took them to the 2003 New Orleans Bowl in his junior season and won in front of his family and friends at the Louisiana Superdome, giving his school its first Bowl victory in 31 years.

By winning four state titles in high school, his overall record in the famed building sits at 8-2. But because of his stocky build (6 ft. 1 in., 225 lb.), Wimprine was passed over in the NFL draft. He was signed and released by the Cleveland Browns this spring and then looked into his CFL options.

According to Wimprine, he informed the Eskimos he wanted to come to their training camp, forcing them to sign him in or lose his neg-list rights.

With an abundance of arms, the Esks tried to put Wimprine on the practice roster, only to watch him jump at the chance to join their arch-rival.

But there's no QB controversy in Calgary. He's happy to be No. 3.

"Anybody wants a chance to play early," Wimprine said.

"I know I can't jump in a game this week. But I want to start preparing.

"This game is new to me and there's a lot of preparation to get mentally ready. I'm in the third spot right now and hopefully I can continue to grow. With these two good quarterbacks here, I just want to be a solid backup."

Only time will tell if he's made another good decision.

EXTRA POINTS: The Stampeders added five players to the practice roster, all of them being cut earlier in camp. Joining the taxi squad are non-import DB Lawrence Deck, non import OL Kyler Jukes, import RB Tony Stallings, import DB Jacoby Shepherd and import DL Clay Roberson.


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