ULLRICH: B.C. Lions set to pass the torch after Elimimian injury

Protege, meet mentor. Protege, meet your future.

Jordan Herdman couldn’t have known how closely his career path was going to follow that of Solomon Elimimian when the sophomore SFU linebacker was being tutored by a perennial CFL all-star.

But Herdman was quick to spot the irony Tuesday, which was saying something considering he’d only had a few hours to digest the fact the 23-year-old is about to take Elimimian’s middle linebacking spot in the defence of the B.C. Lions, who learned their defensive leader suffered a wrist injury that will land him on the six-game injured list.

Elimimian complained of soreness late Saturday and had surgery Monday to repair a dislocation and some nerve damage that may have developed even before he had taken another central role in the Lions’ comeback win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

He’ll be moved onto the six-game list before the Lions travel to face the Ottawa Redblacks Friday, a devastating blow for a team which just got some traction from the return of Travis Lulay but has also surrendered three straight 100-plus yard running games even with the former outstanding defensive player in the lineup.

The job of trying to replace Elimimian was immediately handed to a former Lions seventh-round pick in the Canadian college draft, who has studied the all-star closely since Herdman took a roster spot as an understudy playing special teams last season.

Herdman got to know the player he will attempt to replace during his sophomore season at SFU in 2014 when Elimimian served as a part-time coach. Brother Abe Elimimian was SFU’s defensive coordinator that year, so taking the volunteer position didn’t require much thought.
Herdman will require considerably more thought when at work Friday. But after waiting for a chance few thought would come for some time he figures he’s ready to find out if he can be a defensive contributor in the CFL.
“It’s crazy how things work sometimes from him coaching me, to playing together and now to take over his role and try to fill his shoes, which are big shoes,” Herdman said. “I’m embracing it. It’s amazing and I’m excited about it.”
Herdman was a tackling machine during his days at SFU and had a pair of NFL mini-camp appearances as a result, playing in the Senior Bowl prior to being taken by the Lions. He was not a supreme tester, which caused him to fall in the Canadian draft, but his immediate superior insists he’s ready for the challenge ahead.
“We’re going to replace (Elimimian) with a player that’s been preparing himself for this time,” defensive coordinator Mark Washington said. “This won’t be anything new. It won’t be too big for him. He won’t have big eyes or anything.”
He may not have big eyes, but opposing tailbacks have been piling up big stats all season on the Lions. Ottawa has a supreme test in William Powell, who took over primary running chores once the Redblacks had dispatched Jeremiah Johnson, whose ankle injury means he will yield his Lions spot to Brandon Rutley Friday.
“When I look across the league I don’t see any weak starting running backs. If you see one, please tell me because tell me so i can look forward to playing that game,” coach Wally Buono said.
“Maybe it’s going to be good. Maybe (it’s been a case of) ‘let Solly do it’. Well, guess what;  Solly isn’t here so he can’t do it. We’re a veteran team. It’s time our veterans stand up.” One sophomore SFU product will be asked to stand up taller than everyone else.
Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.