‘Best version’ of Harris leading at REDBLACKS mini-camp

OTTAWA – Trevor Harris has no doubt in his mind that 2018 is going to be his best year yet.

“I firmly believe this is the best version of myself that I’ve brought into a season,” Harris told members of the media after the REDBLACKS first day of mini-camp on Monday.

“I think I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I was. Last year was quite a learning year and I told myself it wasn’t really going to be a lot different with it just being the first year that I was truly a franchise guy. This year it feels different. I’m more comfortable and I think I’m ahead of where I’ve ever been.”

» O’Leary: Thorpe Ottawa’s biggest off-season pick up
» Images: REDBLACKS mini-camp gets underway
» Bio: Trevor Harris by the numbers


Last season, Harris took the reins for the first time as a starting quarterback in Ottawa after he split duties with Henry Burris in 2016.

In his first campaign as the No. 1 pivot, Ottawa finished second in the East with an 8-9-1 record and lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Eastern Semi-Final.

Harris finished the season suiting up in 15 games – he missed three weeks with a shoulder injury obtained in Week 12 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats – and amassed 4,679 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

“It’s great,” he said when asked how his shoulder is feeling. “Ever since mid-February I’ve been phenomenal in terms of how I feel. Physically, mentally, emotionally, everything. It was a great off-season for me, very productive so I’m really fired up coming into the season.”

The REDBLACKS pivot arrived at mini-camp on Monday ready to lead the younger guys on roster. Heading into his sixth year in the CFL, Harris is excited to pass along what he’s learned to the new crop of players coming into the league.

“I’ve always been the young guy and now everyone is like, ‘man, you’re 31?’ and I’m like, ‘yeah, I’m not that old!’” Harris laughed. “To learn from the Ricky Ray and Mitchell and Zach and the guys that I’ve played with. It’s been a blast. You get to use that knowledge, help the younger guys and pass on things that you’ve learned from that have helped you.”

Some of Ottawa’s off-season acquisitions were invited to camp this week, including linebacker Kyries Hebert, defensive backs Louchiez Purifoy and Rico Murray and kickers Richie Leone and Sergio Castillo.

Ed Ilnicki (8) makes a play during mini-camp on Monday (Chris Hofley/Ottawa REDBLACKS)

The roster also includes young players with little CFL experience and head coach Rick Campbell is certain a few of them will make an impact this season.

“There’s always a couple guys that really stand out,” he said after Monday’s session. “There’s going to be definitely a few guys from this group that are going to be an impact for us this season. That happens every year.”

One young player that could make an impact in 2018 is running back Ed Ilinicki.

After suiting up for the REDBLACKS in the pre-season last year, Ilnicki set a single-season Canada West record in 2017 with 1,468 rushing yards at the University of Alberta. He also led U SPORTS in rushing touchdowns, with 11, and carries, with 196 on his way to receiving the Hec Crighton Trophy. After getting selected by the REDBLACKS in the 2017 CFL Draft, Ottawa signed the Spruce Grove, Alberta native to a two-year deal in January.

Along with getting a look at Ilnicki and company, Campbell is using the three-day mini-camp to help players learn the ins and outs of the Canadian game before they report to training camp in May.

“We want to get these guys up to speed on learning scheme,” Campbell said. “And learning what the field is like and the rules and the motion so that when they come back here in three weeks they have a legitimate shot to compete and win a job on the roster.”