Trevor Harris, A.J. Ouellette bond over 23-hour road trip to Saskatchewan Roughriders’ training camp

Photos: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation & CFL. Photo edit: 3DownNation.

If franchise quarterback Trevor Harris and newly-signed running back A.J. Ouellette have early-season chemistry with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, it will likely stem from the 23-hour road trip they made together from Ohio to Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon.

“We got to know each other, that’s for sure,” Ouellette told the team’s senior journalist, Rob Vanstone. “Twenty-three hours talking football, talking God, talking family … a little bit of everything.”

“I’m already good friends with Trev. I’ll put him down as a lifelong best friend right now.”

“It was awesome,” Harris added. “There were lots of talks about everything from conspiracy theories to football to education and what we think of the schooling system.”

“We had 23 1/2 hours and we were listening to some old-school country. We found out that we’re both old-school country fans. We talked about Jesus quite a bit, so it was a great drive.”

Harris missed most of last year with a tibial plateau fracture he suffered in a 33-31 loss to the Calgary Stampeders on July 15. He went 3-2 as a starter during his first season in Riderville, completing 66.2 percent of his passes for 1,274 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. He also carried the ball nine times for 94 yards.

The two Ohio natives will be working closely together in Saskatchewan’s new offence under the coordination of Regina native Marc Mueller and Ouellette thinks Harris is the right man to lead the Riders back to the playoffs.

“I love his leadership. I love how he owns the huddle,” Ouellette said. “There’s no one talking when he’s talking. He’s the one with the play, so everyone has to lock in so we get it, and then he’s just a goofball when he needs to be, having fun and talking about movies and stuff. He’s definitely a quarterback who you want.”

Ouellette was signed away from the Toronto Argonauts in free agency after a breakout campaign in 2023, inking a two-year deal that made him the highest-paid American running back in the league. He ran the ball 178 times for 1,009 yards with eight touchdowns last season, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He also caught 16 passes for 163 yards and four touchdowns while tying for the league lead with 10 runs of 20-plus yards.

“In the off-season, he (Harris) called me and said I was the guy that he wanted as his running back. We talked for about three, four hours the first time he called me,” Ouellette said. “We were clicking. Everything that I value in life, he values in life. I was like, ‘That’s the quarterback I need to be with. That’s the brother I need to have beside me.’

“I went to his house and ran some routes for him during the off-season and we already knew each other before the drive, so it made it pretty easy.”

The Roughriders will begin the 2024 season with a trip to Edmonton to take on the Elks on Sunday, June 9.