Solomon Elimimian was named Most Outstanding Rookie at the CFL Player Awards today.
The Nigerian-born Elimimian — who garnered 36 of 60 first-place votes to win the award over Hamilton returner Marcus Thigpen — was spotted by the Lions at a free-agent camp in Los Angeles last spring, after failing to find work, or any interest from the National Football League.And Chad Owens was the unanimous choice for Most Outstanding Special Teams Player.
“It means a lot having my mother (Theresa) and sister (Elizabeth) here,” said Elimimian. “I remember when I was home, I felt like I was starting back all over. Had a college degree, applied for jobs, couldn’t get a job, and my mom would come back home and see my face — and I was just depressed. “And she said, ‘Baby, it’s going to be OK, just keep working’. I wouldn’t have imagined this a year ago, it definitely means a lot to me because they were the ones who were supporting me when it was tough.”
“This is big,” Owens said. “We’ve had a couple guys from Hawaii play in the CFL. This is big for the state of Hawaii, big for my family and big for the Toronto Argonauts.”
Elimimian might not have won his award had Owens been eligible. Owens played last year with the Montreal Alouettes but was traded this spring to Toronto.