Hog back from the farm

Offensive lineman Kevin Lefsrud came out of retirement to bolster the Esks' offence. (Sun...

Offensive lineman Kevin Lefsrud came out of retirement to bolster the Esks' offence. (Sun Media/Brett Gundlock)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

If you're in the market for a good hog, the best place to look is on a farm.

That's where the Edmonton Eskimos found offensive lineman Kevin Lefsrud.

They've been hoping to corral him again ever since he walked away from the club a year ago to concentrate solely on his 3,500-acre spread north of Viking, and now they've got him.

With life on the farm becoming more settled, and the football itch becoming more intense, the 30-year-old decided to once again try juggling both.

"Last year I couldn't," said Lefsrud, adding it was easy choosing a farm that's been in his family since 1906 when it became obvious that a choice had to be made. "My great, great-grandfather came over from Norway and settled there and that's where we've been ever since. I'm rooted there, my kids are rooted there, that's home.

"Now I've got some help and I'm in a situation where I think I can do both. And my wife was tired of me talking about it. She said 'if it's not out of your system, get it out of your system or you won't be happy.' "

They're all happy. Lefsrud gets to knock some heads again (a football fringe benefit he admits missing most) and the Eskimos, who struggled miserably on the offensive line last season, get an experienced leader.

"It just makes us even stronger going into training camp," said head coach and director of football operations Danny Maciocia. "We've always stayed in contact, and now the time is right for him to come back. I always told him if there comes a point in time when there's a little bit more stability on the farm and you want to come back and play, as long as I'm here that door will always be open. We're excited to have him back."

It's still going to be a remarkably taxing year - six hours a day with the Eskimos, then cramming a day's worth of farm work into whatever's left of the day.

"It's going to be challenging, I don't have any delusions," said Lefsrud. "There's 24 hours in a day and I'm only around here for six of them so we'll make it work."

He's signed for two years, but the Esks can tear up the deal any time they want, and he can retire any time he wants - in other words, they're both going to see how the experiment works this season before committing to another.

"If you see me dragging my butt during the season and I'm grumpy, I'm pretty sure you'll know your answer," Lefsrud said of his future. "But if everything works out I can see myself doing this a couple more years. I'm young enough. I haven't been this healthy or felt this good since my second year of college."

He didn't train at all during his year off, but, then again, you don't have to train much when you're putting in 12 hours a day of labour. He's actually 15 pounds under the 295 pounds he played at in 2005.

"I think that year off did him a lot of good," said Maciocia. "Playing on the line of scrimmage can take its toll. The fact he's been away for a year and able to rehab all those aches and pains - I think he'll be able to perform at a very high level."

What does he add to the rebuilding Eskimos?

"That nastiness that he brings," said Maciocia. "He'll play not to the whistle, but through the whistle. You always know that he's around. As a defender, if you just happen to be standing around looking at the sky, chances are he's going to put his helmet underneath your chin."


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