OTTAWA — While most of the Ottawa Redblacks' veterans skipped this week's rookie camp, Trevor Harris was taking reps.
The Redblacks quarterback was in town for the three-day mini-camp because he didn't want to wait a few weeks to connect with the young players on his team.
"It gives me an opportunity to get to know these younger guys on a personal level," said Harris. "I just love football and I want to be here. The day that I don't want to be here like this is the day that I'll be done with football. It's the process of being here and getting your feet wet before the regular season. I look at it as an advantage."
Harris spent much of the off-season working to get better. He changed his diet, eliminating bread, pasta and dairy. He looked to get bigger, stronger, faster and continued to expand his mental training.
"If you look at how his body has changed in the last four months it's amazing," said Redblacks offensive co-ordinator Jaime Elizondo. "Trevor is probably in the best shape he's ever been in and it shows."
Last year was a disappointment for Harris and the Redblacks, who finished the season 8-9-1. The team struggled early on — Harris missed nearly a month with a right shoulder strain — and saw the season come to an end with a 31-20 loss to Saskatchewan in the East Division semifinal.
In 15 games, Harris completed 398 of 572 passes for 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
The 31-year-old signed a one-year extension with the Redblacks in December and is excited to get back to work.
Harris has a new mantra for the upcoming season – surrender the outcome and trust the process.
He understands that it might come across as cliche, but he believes having the ability to let things go is crucial to having success.
"If you can play present as opposed to in the past or the future is a big thing for me," said Harris. "There's no pressure if you're playing in the present, but if you're thinking about the past, you're thinking of the future, thinking of the criticism that's where the pressure comes. Obviously I know there’s noise on the outside and there’s always going to be big criticisms and big support so you just need to make sure you’re focusing on what you need to be.
"I've learned some valuable lessons about that in the past year."
Like Harris, Elizondo is excited to get the season underway. He sees a newfound energy in Harris and admits it's contagious.
"When you have a guy who sets the tone with that kind of excitement it’s easy to coach a guy like that," Elizondo said. '"There are days as the season goes on that your energy level as a coach or a player goes down and we feed off each other so when he comes in and sets the tone with that much excitement and that much enthusiasm you couldn’t be more excited for the season to start."
While veteran receivers Brad Sinopoli, Greg Ellingson and Diontae Spencer will see plenty of work this season, Harris wanted to take part this week to have an opportunity to work with some of the younger players who will be looking to crack the lineup.
"This gives me an opportunity to take some reps with guys so if something happens to an older guy or someone breaks into the starting lineup it’s not brand new and fresh," Harris said. "I see it as an advantage. I think some of these young guys are really going to compete for playing time."
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press