‘He goes a step beyond’: Greg Ellingson believes Trevor Harris is the CFL’s most accurate quarterback

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Every year, like clockwork, February brings the same conversation in CFL circles. As NFL stars test themselves at the Pro Bowl skills competition, fans and players demand a similar event north of the border, perhaps even a revival of the QB only event once hosted by Damon Allen.

You can count Edmonton Elks’ receiver Greg Ellingson among the supporters of that idea and he believes he knows who would win if all the CFL passers were pitted against each other in a test of accuracy. The answer might surprise you.

“It’s a little biased, but I’m gonna go with some of the things I’ve seen with Trevor [Harris], at least [among who is] playing right now. I’ve seen some crazy games where he’s not missed a pass for a whole half almost and going to the third quarter,” Ellingson said when asked about the league’s most accurate passer on the Rod Pedersen Show.

“What’s he on his career, like 71% or somewhere around there? You probably have the stats better than I do, but I’ve seen some crazy games where he has just been so locked in that he barely misses a throw and puts it right where it’s supposed to be.”

Currently a free agent, Harris boasts a career completion percentage of 70.6 percent. No projected 2022 starting quarterback boasts a higher mark, with Saskatchewan Roughriders’ pivot Cody Fajardo the only other player above 70 percent.

In 2021, Harris led all CFL starters with a completion percentage of 70.3. That narrowly edged out the 70.2 mark set by the league’s Most Outstanding Player Zach Collaros, yet Harris found himself traded and released in the same calendar year.

The undisputed starter for the Edmonton Elks to start the season, Harris played six games for the team in 2021, throwing for 1,568 yards, six touchdowns, and five interceptions. He fell out of favour with club management after suffering a neck injury and was replaced by rookie Taylor Cornelius, who would finish the year with a 57.9 completion percentage.

Harris was traded to Montreal as a rental in mid-October in exchange for American defensive lineman Antonio Simmons, appearing in four regular season games and starting three. He completed 64-of-91 pass attempts in those games for 703 yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions.

The 35-year-old also started the East Semi-Final in a 23-12 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, completing 28-of-44 pass attempts for 364 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He was released after the season so the club could return to injured starter Vernon Adams Jr.

Harris started 13 games with Edmonton in 2019, completing 71.8 percent of his passes for 4,027 yards, 16 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He also added 48 rushes for 139 yards with six touchdowns. In the East Semi-Final that year, Harris set CFL playoff records for consecutive completions with 22 and completion percentage 92.3 percent.

In 143 career games split between Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton and Montreal, the Edinboro University product has thrown for 24,453 yards, 134 touchdowns and 59 interceptions. Much of that success with the Elks and Redblacks came while throwing to Ellingson, with the pair well-known across the league for their chemistry.

“I think we both respect each other’s game a lot. Definitely he’s one of the guys that comes prepared every day,” Ellingson explained. “He’s working at practice and you see the preparation he puts in. I mean, all quarterbacks have to do that, but he goes a step beyond.”

With the 33-year-old receiver currently set to hit free agency on February 8, the pair could be reunited once again, though it would require the right situation. Harris still believes he is a top-tier CFL starter and there are few locations around the league that would provide him a clear path to the field.

“I told him if we don’t end up together this year, I’m always going to be in his corner rooting for him and watching him from across the sideline,” Ellingson said. “Just hopefully not too much when he is playing against me.”