When a team signs a player in free agency, the hype for that player’s debut starts immediately.
When the player is going to become the new starting quarterback in the most ferocious market in the league, the hype gets ratcheted up tenfold.
Such is the case with Trevor Harris becoming the new man behind centre in Saskatchewan after the Roughriders scooped him up from Montreal to become the newest franchise pivot for the green and white. Harris will replace Cody Fajardo who signed with Harris’ old team in Montreal.
With hype comes expectations and despite lofty ones for the 36-year-old, his new general manager does not believe he has to be anything other than what he has been to be successful in his new locale.
“I think he just needs to be himself,” Roughriders’ GM Jeremy O’Day told to the media. “I think he’s played long enough in this league where he doesn’t need to try to do anything he hasn’t done already.”
Harris has suited up for four different teams over his 11 years in the league, playing 161 games for the Toronto Argonauts, Ottawa Redblacks, Edmonton Elks and Als. Over that time he has completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 28,610 yards with 154 touchdowns and 71 interceptions.
Harris has won two Grey Cups, but neither of them as a starter. He won his first with the Argos in 2012 as the team’s third-string quarterback and again in 2016 with the Redblacks as Henry Burris’ backup. Harris led the Redblacks back to the Grey Cup in 2018 but Ottawa lost to Calgary on a frigid November night in Edmonton.
That was Harris’ final game in Ottawa as he signed with Edmonton during the ensuing off-season. After a tumultuous career with the Elks, Harris found himself back in a backup role with the Alouettes before ascending to the starter’s position early last season. His play sparked a Montreal resurgence as the team won their first playoff game and made it to the East Final for the first time since 2014.
Going to a team that had their hometown Grey Cup aspirations dashed in large part due to poor play from the quarterbacking position means there will be a lot of pressure placed on Harris to get the Riders back to the top.
“We’re not trying to put all the pressure in the world on Trevor Harris,” O’Day stated. “We’re bringing him in to be a piece of the puzzle. He’s an experienced guy that’s been through it. It’s not his first time leading a football team.”
According to O’Day, Harris just needs to be who he has always been and not worry about having to shoulder the load for a franchise that drastically underachieved a season ago.
“I think he just needs to be Trevor Harris. He just needs to come in and be himself and not put too much pressure on himself.”
The old cliche is that pressure busts pipes but it also creates diamonds. Which one Harris becomes in his first year as the face of the Roughriders organization is something we will have to wait to see.