Eiben has the formula

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:14 AM ET

A Ford F-10 is a big enough pickup truck, but its weight increases exponentially the longer you insist on pushing it uphill.

Kevin Eiben can tell you that.

"We do it a couple of times a week back in B.C.," Eiben said. "My trainer, Rob Hollands, would be behind the wheel nudging the truck forward, but it would be up to me to push it the 25 or 30 yards up the hill. The idea is to get low and build the power through your hamstrings."

Trucks, mountains, Kevin Eiben moves them all.

The Argos' punishing middle linebacker led the CFL in tackles this season with 110. He is an overnight sensation, a kid who over four years went from the practice roster to special teams standout to the pivot point on the Argos defence.

Only 25, he is a newly minted CFL all-star and the first Canadian to record 100 takedowns wearing double blue.

"Kevin's going to get even better," coach Pinball Clemons said. "The number may not always show it, but he's going to do more things to help us win."

Eiben grew up in Delta, B.C., playing ball. He strapped on his first set of shoulder pads at age five. His dad, Larry, was a standout football player at the University of Cincinnati and arranges his schedule to watch in person every game Kevin plays. An uncle played at Nebraska. Kevin's mom, Laraine, was a standout swimmer. His brother, L.J., played for the B.C. Lions.

You can credit genetics if you like, but with Kevin Eiben it comes down to will.

"What stood out with Kevin was his competitiveness," Larry Eiben said. "Kevin played shortstop all the way through his youth baseball. When he was 13 he went out for an elite team and ended up being moved to centre field. He learned and worked and listened and made himself a really good centre fielder."

Said Clemons: "Kevin Eiben would be a perfect case study for Anthony Robbins. He is an absolute master on setting goals, knocking them over and then not thinking much of them when they're gone."

Eiben played quarterback and free safety in high school then sent out a batch of videos to U.S. schools. His athletic ability and a gleaming academic record landed him a spot at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. He made the dean's list and copped all-American honours in his final year there but Eiben wasn't big enough or strong enough to warrant much more than a cursory sniff from NFL clubs.

The Argos liked his aggressiveness and his sense for the game but saw him as a prospect.

As a rookie, Eiben earned a spot on special teams. In his second year, he rose to special teams captain. In his third, he earned more time on the defensive side of the ball, and when the Argos went to a three-four defence this spring Eiben became a starter.

All those stations represented goals he wrote down before the season started.

"My parents taught me about setting goals once I got into high school and it's something I have always done and always will do."

Eiben got his business degree at Bucknell and, during his first two off-seasons, began working on his masters in sports management at Florida State University. He needs four credits.

"Eventually, I want to get into the management side of the game," he said.

Makes sense.

Fewer trucks to push.


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