Elizondo: Trevor Harris is ‘much more comfortable in his own skin’ since days in Ottawa

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

Edmonton Elks’ head coach Jaime Elizondo really likes what he’s seeing from star quarterback Trevor Harris early in training camp.

“You don’t gauge too much based off the first practice, but there’s differences in how he sees the game. When we spent time in meetings and how he approaches things, I think he’s much more comfortable in his own skin, in his own shoes,” said Elizondo in a videoconference.

Harris played under the veteran coach for three seasons in Ottawa (2016-18) during which he threw for 13,096 yards, 68 touchdowns, and 26 interceptions. Now 35, Harris is fully embracing what it means to be a franchise quarterback at the professional level.

“He’s comfortable being a leader — this is his team,” said Elizondo. “I think those are the things that you see but it’s kind of like seeing an old best friend. When you haven’t seen him, you just pick right up where you guys left off and that’s what it’s kind of been for Trevor and I, so that’s been kind of cool.”

Harris threw for 4,027 yards, 16 touchdowns, and six interceptions last year under Jason Maas despite missing five games due to injury. He felt very comfortable in his first full day of practice at training camp.

“We went through the first period and I just felt like I didn’t miss a day. I felt like I was seeing the defence well, I felt slow and under control. I do a lot of mental work with a neuroplastician in the off-season — I worked with Dr. Chantale Lussier, she’s a mental performance coach out of Quebec — and she’s been amazing for me,” said Harris.

“I felt good mentally. I didn’t feel out of whack. I felt accurate, I felt on-time. Obviously, there’s always going to be a few things to clean up and a few things you wish you saw a little bit better, but … I thought it was a good day one for us.”

Harris’ receiving corps is a star-studded group that includes Greg Ellingson, Tevaun Smith, Armanti Edwards, and Kenny Stafford, though the biggest name has yet to report to training camp.

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

Derel Walker remains at home in the United States as he attends to personal matters. Elizondo is looking forward to having the star receiver back in the fold but knows there are a number of great targets already on the field.

“Obviously, D-Walk [sic] is a great player. When he’s back with us, we’ll be excited,” said the head coach. “But I think football presents an opportunity for someone else. That’s the greatest thing about football is somebody goes down, takes a play off, somebody else will come in and light it up. We got a really talented group of wideouts.”

“We got some young guys that can really, really play,” said Harris. “A few guys in particular really stood out today to me that you don’t hear about a lot, so it’s exciting to see those guys perform.”

When asked, Elizondo also addressed the four Saskatchewan Roughriders who suffered torn Achilles tendons in Saskatchewan on Thursday.

“My heart goes out for those guys — sending prayers up because it is tough when you waited this long to play and that opportunity gets taken away from you. Prayers up for those guys.”

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.