New Vikings linebacker Elimimian hits hard, no matter his size

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 12, 2012 - 12:52 AM

Solomon Elimimian might be considered small for the NFL, but he earned a reputation in Canada for packing a punch.

hide

Solomon Elimimian (56) got to know Calgary’s Rob Cote last July. Elimimian was voted in a players poll as the CFL’s hardest hitter two years in a row.

Solomon Elimimian wasn't too far into his first Vikings practice when he heard the inevitable question that he has fielded hundreds of times since he started playing football in the ninth grade at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles.

"So," said Vikings linebackers coach Fred Pagac, "just how tall are you?"

The answer? Same as he was when he left the University of Hawaii with its career record for tackles (434). Same as he was when he was the Canadian Football League Most Outstanding Rookie in 2010. Same as he was when his team-high 98 tackles helped the British Columbia Lions win the Grey Cup last year.

"I told Mr. Pagac, 'I'm 5-foot-11 and a half. And make sure you remember that half," said Elimimian, who signed a two-year deal in January and participated in Vikings rookie minicamp last weekend.

Elimimian's body isn't close to prototypical for an NFL linebacker. But the 25-year-old's determination and mentality when it comes to obliterating opposing ballcarriers is unapologetically old-school.

"I can say I've knocked some people out before," Elimimian said. "But, you know what, that's part of the game."

Canadian sports television network TSN polled 250 CFL players last season. They were asked to name the league's hardest hitter. Elimimian was a repeat winner in a landslide.

"I played with Solly up there in 2010," Vikings receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux said. "Toronto had a running back, Cory Boyd, from South Carolina. Solly hit him one time and Cory was asleep by the time he hit the ground."

The Vikings need depth behind weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson and more speed and attitude on special teams. Elimimian has spent the past two years honing his skills as a middle linebacker in a 4-2-6 defense and a special teams leader on the CFL's bigger playing surface.

"You can't play in the CFL if you can't flat-out run," Elimimian said. "And with all the extra motioning that's allowed, it's also a thinking man's league."

Elimimian's NFL career is limited to two preseason games. Undrafted in 2009, he was signed by the Buffalo Bills in August of that year.

"Some guys got hurt and they needed a camp body," Elimimian said. "I didn't have enough time to show them anything."

Elimimian was born in Calabar, Nigeria, and moved to Los Angeles when he was young. His father is a retired English professor at Cal Poly. His mother is a social worker who helps people overcome alcohol and drug abuse. There's also a sister and four older brothers, all four of whom earned football scholarships, including Abraham, a cornerback who went to Hawaii and spent time in NFL Europe as well as stints with the Bears and Chargers.

Solomon Elimimian thought his football career might be ending in the fall of 2009.

"That probably was the hardest year of my life," Elimimian said. "No teams called. That's when you realize how much you love football."

An English major, Elimimian couldn't find a regular job either. So he worked out, got involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Crenshaw High and lived at home.

"That's humbling," Elimimian said. "Living at home with your mom. Every day, you see her coming home from work."

One day, Abraham suggested that his younger brother go to a tryout for the CFL. Solomon gave it a try, landed with BC and started out the 2010 season as a fourth-string linebacker with a balky hamstring.

"I wasn't sure I'd make the team," Elimimian said. "But by the third game, I was starting."

Elimimian's story is a good one. But standing in front of him and assuming he won't strike, one is tempted to ask, "Yeah, but how can a 225-pound linebacker make it in the NFL?"

"There are a lot of undersized linebackers that make it in the NFL," he said. "For a long time, every one of the Colts' linebackers were undersized. Gary Brackett, Cato June. Clint Session. The main thing is being physical. Just because you're undersized doesn't mean you can't be physical. Being physical is who I am."

Then Elimimian added a point of clarification.

"And actually," he said, "I'm 230 pounds."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City 0 Top 3rd Inning
San Francisco 1
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 2 3rd Prd
Toronto 0
NY Rangers 1 3rd Prd
Montreal 2
New Jersey 2 3rd Prd
Ottawa 1
Dallas 4 3rd Prd 17:54
NY Islanders 4
Detroit 1 3rd Prd 16:10
Philadelphia 1
Chicago 1 2nd Prd
St. Louis 1
Pittsburgh 1 2nd Prd 16:26
Nashville 0
Tampa Bay 1 2nd Prd 19:32
Minnesota 4
Florida 8:00 PM
Arizona
Washington 9:00 PM
Calgary
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
UAB 17 FINAL
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
UNLV 20 FINAL
Utah State 34
Temple 14 FINAL
UCF 34
(15) Arizona 52 4th Qtr 11:23
Washington St 23
Texas-El Paso 17 3rd Qtr 6:13
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 3 3rd Qtr 14:27
Colorado State 24
Syracuse 6 3rd Qtr 13:10
(21) Clemson 3
Texas State 0 3rd Qtr 6:04
ULM 15
(3) Ole Miss 7 3rd Qtr
(24) LSU 3
So Carolina 21 3rd Qtr
(5) Auburn 21
(4) Alabama 27 2nd Qtr 2:45
Tennessee 7
(13) Ohio State 7 2nd Qtr 12:30
Penn State 0
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 2nd Half 27:00
New England 1
Portland 0 1st Half 20:00
FC Dallas 0
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 13 7:29
Winnipeg 17
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday in Tampa Bay?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close