Force is the forte for Vikings LB Elimimian

Solomon Elimimian has big passion in a small linebacker's body, but he knows how to pack a punch. Earlier this offseason, he talked about his back-to-back "hardest hitter" awards in the CFL and his outlook, passion and mindset for defense.

The Minnesota Vikings are one week away from their first training camp practice, but rookie linebacker Solomon Elimimian may be looking at a date 10 days down the road.

On July 30, the Vikings will have their first practice with full pads and there is little doubt that is when the hard-hitting defender excels. Excuse us, make that "hardest" hitting linebacker.

The official honor given to Elimimian the last two years was the CFL Hardest Hitter Award.

"It was a blessing because of the hard work that I did. It's always good to be recognized for the hard work that you put into the game," Elimimian said in May after going through the Vikings minicamp but having yet to put on the pads that allow him to accent his forte.

"The best part about the award was that the players voted for it. The players that I played against every game, they voted for it. That means more than anything because when your peers respect you, that goes a long way. When you play the game with passion, when you play the game with want-to and determination, good things will happen. Other players will recognize that."

Elimimian made the most of his time in the CFL, leading the BC Lions with 77 tackles, was second on the team with five sacks and, in addition to his hard-hitting award, earned CFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010.

Last year was essentially a repeat, earning the Hardest Hitter Award once again, leading the Lions with 98 tackles (second in the CFL) and helping lead them to the Grey Cup Championship with six tackles in the title game.

When he signed with the Vikings for his shot at the NFL, the Hardest Hitter label was one that drew the attention of fans.

"It's your mindset. No matter how big you are or how small you are, it's the mindset that you approach the game with," Elimimian said. "We all know guys who, physically, they might be the biggest guys on the field but they don't have the mentality of going and being physical. You look at a guy like Bob Sanders – you know how small he is and pound for pound he was the hardest hitting guy in the NFL because of his mindset. When he came to the ball, he came with attitude. That was entrenched in him to be physical. From that standpoint, I looked at it like, to be physical, it's a mindset. This is what you bring. Some things you can teach and some things you can't teach. Being physical is something you just have to approach it mentally. If you have the mentality that you're going to go out there and hit somebody hard, then you're going to be physical. You can say my size – my size is one thing – but the mentality that I have is one of being physical."

The 6-foot, 230-pounder said there are a couple of his hits that stand out but added that he doesn't talk about them. It's not only the receiver of the hit that feels it, he said, but sometimes that executor experiences the effects of the bone-jarring collisions.

"When you hit hard, when you knock players out, sometimes you feel it," he said.

Ironically, one of the linebackers that the Vikings prospect admired growing up is now giving him pointers – Mike Singletary. Before Singletary was an assistant coach with the Vikings and Baltimore Ravens and a head coach with the San Francisco 49ers, three decades ago he was the intense, wide-eyed linebacker honing in on opposing running backs as a leader of the Chicago Bears' feared 4-6 defense.

For the modern day, Elimimian singled out another high-intensity middle linebacker: Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

"You love the passion (Singletary) played with. Ray Lewis, I love the passion those guys play with," Elimimian said. "Every game is a battle and every game they go out there with passion and a purpose and a determination and that's something I liked."

Whether it is former teammates or current coaches, it seems everyone who knows Elimimian's game has an appreciation for his ability to quickly assess a play and then put his own stamp on it. "Instincts" is a word that continued to surface in discussing the former Hawaii Rainbow Warrior.

"He's a quick, agile guy," Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said. "He has that short, stocky build, but he packs a punch and he was one of the top tacklers in the Canadian Football League. His quickness and ability to dissect plays got our attention."

After signing a free-agent contract with Minnesota on July 31, Elimimian spent May and June learning the Vikings' plays. He said that will help him "play fast" and allow his physicality to show. It also gave him an opportunity to work on the finer points of linebacker play – staying low, using his hands better and, of course, watching and studying more film.

When his game comes together, the outside linebacker figures it will be a mix of natural talent and hard work.

"Some things God blesses you with. Some things I might not have. Sometimes, that's just what it comes down to," he said. "You can work as hard as you want to. You can prepare yourself as best as you want to, and then some things come down to what God has blessed you with."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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When you play the game with passion, when you play the game with want-to and determination, good things will happen. Other players will recognize that.\" Elimimian made the most of his time in the CFL, leading the BC Lions with 77 tackles, was second on the team with five sacks and, in addition to his hard-hitting award, earned CFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010. Last year was essentially a repeat, earning the Hardest Hitter Award once again, leading the Lions with 98 tackles (second in the CFL) and helping lead them to the Grey Cup Championship with six tackles in the title game. When he signed with the Vikings for his shot at the NFL, the Hardest Hitter label was one that drew the attention of fans. \"It's your mindset. No matter how big you are or how small you are, it's the mindset that you approach the game with,\" Elimimian said. \"We all know guys who, physically, they might be the biggest guys on the field but they don't have the mentality of going and being physical. You look at a guy like Bob Sanders – you know how small he is and pound for pound he was the hardest hitting guy in the NFL because of his mindset. When he came to the ball, he came with attitude. That was entrenched in him to be physical. From that standpoint, I looked at it like, to be physical, it's a mindset. This is what you bring. Some things you can teach and some things you can't teach. Being physical is something you just have to approach it mentally. If you have the mentality that you're going to go out there and hit somebody hard, then you're going to be physical. You can say my size – my size is one thing – but the mentality that I have is one of being physical.\" The 6-foot, 230-pounder said there are a couple of his hits that stand out but added that he doesn't talk about them. 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