Louisiana connection in Eskimos offence

Eskimos quarterback Steven Jyles hands the ball off to running back Calvin McCarty during practice...

Eskimos quarterback Steven Jyles hands the ball off to running back Calvin McCarty during practice at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., June 18, 2012. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:52 PM ET

EDMONTON - Sometimes it takes some time.

When the Edmonton Eskimos host the B.C. Lions in Thursday night’s pre-season game, a couple of Louisiana lads will take the spotlight for a while.

Quarterback Steven Jyles and slotback Fred Stamps needed little introduction when this year’s training camp started.

They grew pretty familiar with each other playing scouts teams in 2007, the year Stamps arrived here.

They’ve crossed paths several times during their football careers, including a college rivarly.

Stamps went to Louisiana-Lafayette, while Jyles got his training with Louisiana at Monroe.

Considering that much of the Eskimos fortunes this season will depend on how well the quarterback and the team’s top receiver will be able to communicate, their southern roots can’t hurt the cause.

“We were rivals in college,” said Stamps. “We played a lot against each other. I always knew the quarterback at Monroe had a strong arm. Everybody knew about Steven Jyles in our conference. He could make a throw anywhere on the field.”

During their previous year in Edmonton, the pair got to know each other quite well on the practice field. Both were in the early stages of their CFL careers, trying to make a name for themselves.

“Me and Steven got out here and he’d just throw me the ball,” said Stamps, who had players like Jason Tucker and Mookie Mitchell ahead of him on the depth chart. “We just made plays.

“I feel comfortable with all our quarterbacks. Right now, we have four good quarterbacks who are throwing the ball well.”

Still, there’s always a comfort zone knowing the lengthy history between Stamps and Jyles. Find a little success, and this passer/catcher combo could be dynamite.

“It’s always good to have a Louisiana connection,” said Stamps, who pointed out QB Kerry Joseph, receiver Cary Koch and DB Chris Thompson were also born in Louisiana. “It would be nice if we could get some crawfish up here so we could get some gumbo or something like that. We have enough guys for a fish fry now.”

If that’s a recipe for success, so be it.

When Jyles was first reintroduced to the Edmonton media earlier this year, you could tell he was a real fan of Stamps.

“Me and Fred got a real history going back to college,” said Jyles. “I watched him play a lot and thought, ‘Man, this guy is good.’

“When I came to Canada (2006), he was in the NFL. When I heard in ’07 that we had a chance to get him, I was excited.”

Even back then, Jyles was convinced Stamps would become one of the CFL’s best receivers.

“I talked to him a lot in ’07,” said Jyles. “I told him, ‘Man, you’re going to be something big one day.’ We were both on the scout team then and we was putting up some good numbers. We were performing against the No. 1 defence, throwing touchdowns, making big-time completions. That told me a lot about his talent and the intangibles.

“When I left here (2008 trade), I told him ‘One day we’ll play together and we’ll make history.’ ”

Bottom line, when Jyles arrived here this time, there was not much he had to learn about Stamps.

“He’s the kind of guy you just throw the ball near him and he’s going to make the play,” said Jyles. “We have a lot of guys on this team you can go to, but Fred is a leader of those guys. They all enjoy watching him play and they feed off him.”

And, if a Grey Cup is on the horizon, it just may make its way to Louisiana.

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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