Argos backup QB a student of the game Trevor Harris has learned his lessons well
By BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency
|Argonauts quarterback Trevor Harris throws a pass against the Tiger-Cats at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Nov. 1, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
TORONTO - In a small way, for Trevor Harris, Thursday night’s turn as quarterback of the Toronto Argonauts was an audition.
The Argonauts are, after all, a team that soon will have to declare an heir to the No. 1 job now held by Ricky Ray.
In an even smaller way, it was a reward for being a diligent football soldier, working in the background as a third-stringer who knew the only time he’d likely bark any meaningful signals this summer would be through a Wendy’s takeout window.
Harris played a bit more than a quarter, threw 14 passes, completed seven for 77 yards, including the one to Chad Owens that precipitated a game-stopping celebration as the Argonauts receiver set the league record for combined yards in a season.
But for Harris, this was about more than one moment. One game. One audition. One thrill. This was about one more lesson in a lifelong study of Football 101. While he’d like nothing better than to emerge as the No. 1 quarterback in Toronto someday, the 26-year-old out of Edinborough University in Pennsylvania, is looking further down life’s highway. “Someday I want to be a coach. I went to college to learn to teach math. I love to teach. And that’s what coaching is, glorified teaching,” said Harris, who once set a Division II record with 630 passing yards in a playoff game against West Liberty.
“I really like the college game. The kids are at an age where they’re just hungry to play and I’d really love to end up coaching there. Nothing against the pros ... but kids are so passionate. I just love how hungry they are.”
Thursday’s 43-40 win was pretty heady stuff for Toronto’s scrubs, knocking off a Hamilton team that needed a win to make the playoffs. That intensity is what made it special for Harris, who had thrown just five passes all season. “The cool thing was it wasn’t a meaningless game for (Hamilton). They’re scratching and clawing. So they were firing their bullets. It’s encouraging to know you can got out there and make the correct decisions.”
If the Ticats had their backs against the wall in a win-or-go-home scenario, it was just as big a deal for Argonauts such as Harris and fellow rookie quarterback Zach Collaros, who piloted the winning drive.
“They were very poised,” head coach Scott Milanovich, said afterward. “It was impressive to see that the moment wasn’t bigger than them.”
Not everyone can quarterback the Packers. Not everyone can throw like Darian Durant or have Ricky Ray’s touch. But it is possible to become a football technician; to perhaps pass on a football knowledge that will someday make someone else a starting quarterback in a Rose Bowl, a Vanier Cup or Grey Cup. And, like those college kids, he someday hopes to coach, there is a hunger for football that burns inside Harris.
“Every morning when I call my mom and say, ‘I gotta go to work now’, she kind of chuckles and says, ‘you’re not going to work. You’re going to a locker room, going in to watch film and play football.’”
Or, in Harris’ case ever since leaving college in 2010, learning football.
Until Thursday he had completed one regular-season CFL pass.
He has been a paper quarterback with Jacksonville and Buffalo in the NFL, took a sideroad through Hartford of the United Football League, and into dead end streets in the Arena League with Orlando and Arizona.
Then, he showed up at the Argos’ rookie camp in Bradenton, Fla. “I remember that first night I called my mom and my agent and said, ‘I like this brand of football. I think it suits me. I like the offence. It’s fun’.”
In the Argonauts final pre-season game, Harris threw 13 completions in 15 attempts, for 160 yards and two touchdowns. That earned him a roster spot. Since then he has been studying playbooks, schemes, new protection techniques. New league. New game. New ideas.
So, what did he learn from Thursday’s appearance? “It’s a different animal (than pre-season),” he said, laughing. “You study film all week, you prepare, but by the time you get out there on game day it’s just reaction. I felt my eyes were in the right spot. Obviously, I probably played much better in the pre-season but I felt I made good decisions ... and they’d get better; but that takes reps.”
Now come the playoffs. Back to breaking down film, back to studying, back to watching Ricky Ray, back to hoping, learning, listening, back to getting a football education. Meantime, the other dream lives, too. “If you’re a backup and don’t wish you were playing you probably shouldn’t be here.”