June 11, 2013

From knuckleball to deep ball

Bryce Forbes

If rookie quarterback Ryan Perrilloux turns into a successful CFL player, he might have to thank Doug Flutie for pointing him to the Great White North.

Now you might expect the two to cross paths when Perrilloux was playing NCAA football and Flutie was a college football analyst on a range of different platforms.

Nope, the pair actually competed on a reality show trying to become the next great knuckleball pitcher in MLB.

The show was called “The Next Knuckler” and it aired on the MLB Network earlier this year.

The premise was quite simple: five former NCAA football greats trying to learn the knuckleball pitch from famous knuckler Tim Wakefield. The winner would then earn a spring training invite with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Unfortunately for both, they couldn’t quite lose enough of the spin on baseball for it to dance like a proper knuckleball.

Thanks to television magic, Perrilloux admits it made him look a lot better than he really was.

“I threw a couple knuckleballs,” he said.

“The show doesn’t do any justice to how many knuckleballs I did not throw,” he added quickly with a hearty laugh.

But during the filming, Perrilloux got to know Flutie, who advised the 26-year-old about the CFL.

“He told me he came here and that it’s a great league,” Perrilloux said. “He said he definitely had an awesome time here. He said he got better, grew as a player and as a person.”

In fact, Perrilloux is wearing No. 20 for the red and white, the same jersey Flutie made famous back in the early ’90s.

It’s the next step in the road for the LaPlace, La., native.

Back in his high school days in Florida, Perrilloux was considered the best college recruit by ESPN and named the National Offensive Player of the Year by USA Today.

He started his college career with the LSU Tigers before graduating from the Jacksonville State.

He spent time with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants of the NFL, as well as the United Football League’s Hartford Colonials and Florida Tarpons of the United Indoor Football League.

Now, after arriving late to Stampeders camp because of passport issues, Perrilloux knows he’s behind the eight-ball.

“I’m definitely behind and have to get caught up,” he said. “That comes with getting in the playbook every night, studying harder, putting in extra time in the film room and time with guys. It’ll come with reps.”

Perrilloux finally made his debut with the Stamps at Tuesday’s morning session.

“It was frustrating, I wanted to be here with my teammates and getting better from Day 1 and getting acclimated to the system,” he said “I’m here now and I’m excited to be around the guys.”

But he’s picking up the playbook quickly and hopes to be able to receive a few snaps during the Stampeders pre-season game on Friday against the BC Lions.

“It shouldn’t be a problem for me to come in and pick up the system fast, I just have to study, work hard and stay in my coach’s hip pocket,” he said.