May 9, 2024

Quick Hits | Rookie Camp — Day 2

Eric Barriere -- photos by Cameron Bartlett

Notes and quotes from Day 2 of Blue Bombers rookie camp…

Fries and… donuts and muffins?: Eric Barriere had never crossed the 49th parallel before and so when he was invited to Blue Bombers rookie camp the Inglewood, CA product — a guy who starred at quarterback for Eastern Washington — was excited for a bit of an international adventure.

His first few takes on Canada and Winnipeg are all positive, although he has noticed some subtle differences between the U.S. of A and the Great White North.

“I like it a lot it. It’s my first time being here. It’s different,” he began after Day 2 of rookie camp. “I had McDonald’s the other day and it’s different than in America, for example. I had the fries, of course, but they’ve also got donuts and muffins… stuff that we don’t have back home. There’s a habanero chicken.

“Another thing… I was trying to watch HBO Max and that doesn’t work here. There’s little things but like I said I like it a lot.”

Barriere is one of four quarterbacks in camp, joining veterans Zach Collaros and Chris Streveler and fellow rookie Terry Wilson whose last year of college was at New Mexico before looks from the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Gamblers. Barriere has bounced around himself since starring at EWU and winning the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the NCAA Division I FCS in 2021. Undrafted in 2022, he signed with the Denver Broncos and then the Michigan Panthers of the USFL. He signed with the New Jersey Generals last year, but then that team folded when USFL and XFL teams merged to form the United Football League.

And so, heck yeah, there’s a certain appeal to come to a league that held the 110th Grey Cup last November.

“It wasn’t so much about uncertainty, it’s just that what happened left a lot of people without an opportunity,” said Barriere. “That was the roller-coaster part of it. This league has been established for a long time and it’s the next thing to the NFL. It’s got great teams with great fan bases and it’s a high-scoring league — that’s appealing to the eyes to an offensive player who wants to go out there and make a name for himself.”

Should he land work with the Blue Bombers, Barriere would be the latest EWU pivot to find a home in Canada, joining the likes of Bo Levi Mitchell, Vernon Adams, Jr. and Matt Nichols.

“I know a lot about that,” Barriere said. “They’ve said that Eastern Washington has been a pipeline for quarterbacks to the CFL. All of them have done well in this league, too. That’s good for players like me and others that come to maybe get a good opportunity up here because of that track record.”

Critical now for Barriere — and Wilson — is to work to impress everyone in that fight for the third QB gig behind Collaros and Streveler.

“I’m big on being a great teammate, being vocal and showing everybody I can lead,” Barriere said. “I want to show my knowledge on the field, that I can process things fast, read defences. If I could do that, that would make me very happy.”

Watch and learn: Newcomers have just three sessions and less than seven hours of practice time between Wednesday’s Day 1 and the end of rookie camp on Friday. Medicals and testing is on Saturday, with the veterans joining everyone for Sunday morning’s first full day of main camp. Here’s Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea on what the coaching staff can learn about a player in just three days:

“You can learn about how guys learn. You can learn about and take in a bit about their character as they move about the building. You can learn a little bit about how much they care about their opportunity. Those things are important. The Xs and Os, that takes a little bit more time to figure out what they can digest. And then you get to see (Friday) when they get the pads on for the first time… you’ll be able to figure out a little bit more about them.”

FYI: DE Chauncey Rivers, one of the main candidates to replace Jackson Jeffcoat, missed the first two days of practice but is apparently now en route… RB Brady Oliveira and SB Nic Demski were transferred to the injured veterans list this week, but they are moves hardly setting off alarm bells in Bomberland. Said O’Shea: “They just have to do a little bit more work to get ready for camp. Those are guys we’re never going to rush. We know what they can do and how important they are, too. If they needed that time before camp, that’s what they’ll get.”

Gabe Wallace

Quotable: O’Shea when asked what it is about OL Gabe Wallace — selected 17th overall in last week’s CFL Draft — that the club likes:

“He’s got a good moustache. Ted saw him play quite often. He’s a massive human being. He’s gritty and we believe he plays football the way we like to play it. Then you talk to him and he’s a good kid. It all added up to when he was available at that pick it would have been a shame not to have him.

Next: Friday’s final day of Rookie Camp runs from 10:15 a.m.-12:20 p.m. at Princess Auto Stadium. All sessions are open to the public.