Rookie scoring A.J. comparisons

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:54 PM ET

Alondra Johnson won’t be in attendance to see his name added to the Calgary Stampeders Wall of Fame.

But his former head coach will be here, and current B.C. Lions boss Wally Buono figures he might’ve unearthed the second coming of the tenacious tackler in rookie linebacker Solomon Elimimian.

“I told A.J. that I think we found another A.J., and I think he was annoyed with me,” Buono said. “I said, ‘A.J., he can accelerate on a hit, just like you could.’ Those type of guys that can do that, they don’t come around every day. There’s a lot of good football players, but guys that can accelerate through a hit, they’re exceptional.

“A.J. had that quality, and Solomon has that quality. The comparison is fair, at this stage, but remember A.J. did it for

14 years and Solomon has done it for maybe eight games.”

At halftime of Friday’s throwdown between the Stampeders and Lions at McMahon Stadium (8 p.m., TSN, QR77), the homeside will officially add Alondra and Will Johnson, Bernie Morrison and builder Jim Finks to their Wall of Fame.

Although A.J. isn’t able to attend the festivities, Buono was scheduled to deliver an induction speech for the six-time all-star and three-time Grey Cup champion during Thursday’s banquet at the Calgary Golf & Country Club.

On Friday night at McMahon Stadium, Buono will be standing on the sidelines as Elimimian continues his campaign for the CFL’s top rookie honours.

Despite seeing limited action in the first six weeks of the season, the 24-year-old leads the Leos with 64 defensive tackles. The Nigerian-born middle linebacker has also recorded five sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, plus filled the highlight reels with his bone-rattling hits on ball-carriers.

What he hasn’t done — at least in his own mind — is earn a spot in the same conversation as a Hall-of-Famer like Alondra Johnson.

“I’ve heard a lot about him and from what I’ve heard, I have a lot of respect for him. I would never dare compare myself to him,” Elimimian said. “The things he’s done in this league have been incredible. Not just for one year but for multiple years, he’s really dominated and been a physical player, and that’s hard to do. This game takes a toll on your body and for him to do that for so long and be consistent, it’s something I appreciate and it’s something I respect.

“But from Coach Wally, (the comparison) means a lot.

I always take into consideration that he played linebacker, and I think a lot of people forget that. He played the position I play and he understands the things that I go through as a linebacker. It’s definitely humbling, but it’s something that I keep in perspective because this is my first year and by no means have I done anything that would compare me to Alondra Johnson in my eyes.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/WesGilbertson


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