The label of “journeyman” may fit former Edinboro Fighting Scots quarterback Trevor Harris pretty perfectly. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had success.
Although Harris has had eight stops in his career, he is currently enjoying a breakout season in the Canadian Football League. Harris played on the division II level at Edinboro, along with in the National Football League, in the Arena Football League, in the United Football League, and now in the CFL.
“The best way to succeed in life is you fail forward fast,” Harris said. “There’s winning and there’s learning, and so the times you think it’s failure are the times to learn.”
Harris signed with the Ottawa Redblacks only a couple of hours into free agency this past offseason. From there, he and longtime CFL star, Henry Burris, have shared time under center during the 2016 season. Harris has appeared in eight games this year, leading Ottawa to a 4-3-1 record in those contests. Ottawa’s overall record is 5-5-1 and they are in second place in the east division. As of Sept. 24, Harris has 13 touchdowns to 2 interceptions.
The first stop in his career was a journey to Edinboro University. It was an ironic destination for him, given his first Boro experience.
“I actually left Edinboro (on a visit) and thought to myself, I’m sure that’s the one school I’m not going to,” he said.
Ultimately, what swayed Harris to come to Edinboro was then offensive coordinator, Scott Browning. Browning was a long time Edinboro assistant coach and was the offensive coordinator during the recruiting process. During Harris’ freshman year, Browning was promoted to new head football coach.
“You could tell he was a genuine person; you could tell he cared about the guys,” Harris said of his former coach. “I just felt really good about the relationship he and I had developed along the way.”
The other major thing that convinced Harris that Edinboro was the school for him was the small-town atmosphere, and the people from the town. Harris had always been a small town kid, growing up in Waldo, Ohio, and appreciated what the atmosphere was like.
“No matter what, in life it’s about the people you surround yourself with more than where you are,” Harris said.
“Anybody you talk to that lives in or around Edinboro talks about how awesome the people are and how comfortable the little town is.”
Harris was a four-year starter for Edinboro and led his teams to a 31-14 record and a playoff appearance. His name can be found across the university record book, with top marks in 12 categories. In his career, Harris threw for 11,899 yards on 966 completions, which is about 12.3 yards per throw. He also threw for 100 touchdowns to only 31 interceptions in his tenure as a Fighting Scot.
Harris never focused on those records, though, as for him it was always about the team and the guys he would get to play with. He gave credit throughout his career to his offensive line, his receivers and his coaches. It was the relationships with the players and the coaches that he remembers most.
“They really showed me they believed in me as a person, and they wanted to develop me as a person on top of (on the field). They helped raise young men,” Harris stated.
After his career at Edinboro concluded, Harris had his sights set on a professional football career. He went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft, but was signed as a rookie free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Harris found himself star struck those first couple days in camp, as he was working out with Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and watching Maurice Jones-Drew work out. Jones-Drew was coming off a 1,300-yard rushing season for the Jaguars.
“David Garrard tells me [in relation to Jones-Drew] ‘hey Trev, you got to stop that, that’s your teammate man. You can’t really be thinking like that,’” said Harris. The Scots athlete found himself moving from playing schools like Lock Haven to looking across the field at the Philadelphia Eagles.
Harris did not make the final 53-man roster that year. He continued the pursuit from 2010 to 2012, playing for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League, The Hartford Colonials of the United Football League, scoring another NFL camp with the Buffalo Bills, and another AFL stand with the Orlando Predators. Harris finally found a more permanent home on March 29, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.
Harris remained a backup to CFL star Ricky Ray in Toronto until the 2015 season. In 2015, he had his chance to start after the Toronto Argonauts announced Ray would miss the first six games of the regular season while dealing with a torn rotator cuff injury. Harris would go on to start the first 16 weeks of the CFL season and led the Argos to a 9-7 record. During those games, Harris threw for 4,356 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Harris was a free agent the following offseason and had many teams looking at him. He ultimately chose the Ottawa Redblacks. “From playing against this team (last year), I got that they play for each other, and they put it on the line for their brothers,” Harris said.
“That’s just a culture I wanted to play for.”
Harris talked about quarterback competitions in his CFL career and how the situation could lead to a positive. “You kind of take tools from their toolbox and see which ones work and which ones don’t and you learn lessons from them by just watching them.”
He continued, talking of that journey, “A lot of people put the straight line on people’s success, their journey, with maybe a few pit stops along the way, but really it’s a zigzag course.”
In the end, Harris’ career has hinged on one thing, faith. “I hope people see me as a God-fearing man who lives for Christ.”
Trevor Harris is a journeyman. The journey he’s embracing isn’t just football, though, it’s life.
Drew Patrick is a general manager for Edinboro Television.