November 29, 2023

Antonio Pipkin pumped about rejoining Roughriders

Antonio Pipkin specializes in short-yardage situations and short negotiation periods. 

The 2023 CFL season has barely concluded and Pipkin has already signed a new contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, on whose behalf he rushed for five touchdowns in nine games after being acquired from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for punter Kaare Vedvik on Aug. 13. 

“Sitting down with the coaches and the GM at the end of the year, you discuss whether they have any plans for you or if they want you back or if they appreciate you,” Pipkin told Riderville.com on Wednesday from his home in Michigan City, Ind. 

“Kyle (Carson, Assistant General Manager) and J.O. (General Manager and Vice-President of Football Operations Jeremy O’Day) both said that they wanted me back. For them to act on that as fast as they did, that’s a sense of appreciation and a sense of loyalty.  

“Unfortunately, as players, we all love the game, but the game doesn’t love us back that often, so I just appreciated that right there. The front office kept their word and stood by what they said. 

“You can hear anything, but actions can be different. Those two guys standing by what they said fired me up even more, when they called and said they wanted to bring me back as quickly as they did.” 

Just as quickly, Pipkin made a positive impression with the Roughriders, thanks in part to his cheerful disposition and a two-touchdown performance in his second game with the team — a 32-30 victory over the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sept. 3. 

“When I first got up there, right away it brought me back to college, and I appreciate that so much,” said Pipkin, 28, who starred at Tiffin University before beginning his professional football career in 2017. 

“I went to a small school in Tiffin, Ohio, and if you take the university out of that town, you’ve probably got a ghost town. It’s truly a college town. 

“Coming to Regina, it was just phenomenal. I remember thinking, ‘I get to go to work, go to this amazing facility, and put in all the work. I have access to absolutely everything that you could ask for.’  

“I’m not a go-out type of guy, but I feel like the (moderate) level of distraction takes me back to college. If you choose to stay in what the team has set up with the dorms (at the University of Regina), you don’t have anything to do but focus on football. You stay with your teammates. You’ve got everything you need at your facility.  

“For me, it was phenomenal. Then you pile the fan base on top of that. What more can you ask for? I was there for a short period of time and I’m walking through the city and people know who I am.” 

As a member of the Tiffin Dragons, Pipkin was a short- and long-yardage quarterback. 

In four seasons of NCAA Division II football, he threw for 10,941 yards and 88 touchdowns in 44 games, adding 2,200 yards and 25 majors along the ground. 

In 2015, as a junior, he produced 3,227 yards and 32 TDs through the air while also rushing for 722 yards and eight scores in 11 games. 

As well, Pipkin was a member of Tiffin’s basketball team as a freshman and a sophomore. 

“Growing up, I played basketball and baseball as well as football,” said Pipkin, who hails from Gary, Ind. “As a youngster, everybody else probably would have said that I was a better baseball player than anything, but basketball had my passion at one point and football had my heart.” 

As a result, he played both sports during his first two years of college. Suffice to say that conditioning wasn’t an issue. 

“Basketball shape and football shape are different, but I was definitely in shape, to say the least,” Pipkin said with a chuckle. 

True to form, the versatile Pipkin has several things on the go during the off-season. 

He runs the PUSH Football Academy, which holds a camp for young players every spring. He is also working toward establishing a career in real estate, knowing that there will be life after football. 

There is also the imperative of preparing for the 2024 football season, so training is another priority. 

What will the next season bring?  

The new Head Coach, to be announced before too long, will play a principal role in charting a new course for the Roughriders following a 6-12 season that ended with seven consecutive losses. 

That stretch, as unpalatable as it was, fuelled Pipkin’s decision to return to Saskatchewan. 

“There was the bad taste that was in my mouth over the last seven games, knowing that’s not a representation of who I am as a player or of the team that I was a part of,” he said, “so I want to be a part of rewriting that and fixing that.” 

Might his job description be rewritten, too?  

Pipkin would love to call signals in non-short-yardage situations — any professional athlete would covet an elevated role — but all of that will be determined in time. 

“I’m going to let that play out how it’s going to play out,” Pipkin said. 

“Quarterbacking is what I love to do. Short yardage is also something I have a passion for. For a lot of people, that’s a, quote unquote, forgotten-about play or it’s a guarantee. But if you don’t get it, where does it end?  

“For me, that’s a play in football and it has got to be taken seriously. Those plays win or lose you games. I have a lot of pride in that role and I also want to continue to be a leader and let my authentic self pour out. 

“If there comes a time where I take more snaps, I’m prepared for that. Whatever our new coaching staff has planned, I’m ready for.” 

 

MOST TOUCHDOWNS BY A ROUGHRIDERS QUARTERBACK IN ONE SEASON 

13 — Kerry Joseph, 2007 

11 — Kent Austin, 1992 

10 — Cody Fajardo, 2019 

9 — Reggie Slack, 1998 

8 — Henry Burris, 2000 

8 — Cody Fajardo, 2022 

7 — Glenn Dobbs, 1951 

7 — Kent Austin, 1993 

7 — Henry Burris, 2004 

7 — Darian Durant, 2010 

7 — Nic Marshall, 2018* 

6 — Kent Austin, 1991 

6 — Tom Burgess, 1994 

6 — Nealon Greene, 2005 

6 — Darian Durant, 2016 

5 — Kent Austin, 1990 

5 — Nealon Greene, 2003 

5 — Marcus Crandell, 2005 

5 — Antonio Pipkin, 2023 

* Marshall, a cornerback, lined up as the quarterback in short-yardage situations for much of the 2018 season.