LAFAYETTE — Sometimes after he finishes the violent act of being himself on the football field, Boris Anyama’s mind starts wondering.
What’s it like to be hit by me?
He can’t fully answer the question he sometimes poses to himself, because he’s usually on the giving end of big hits. He looks mad when he delivers one of those slobber-knockers, which prompts the question: Does he play angry? Anyama isn’t sure how to answer at first.
“You’ve got to ask them, the people I’m tackling,” Anyama said.
But there has to be a reason behind the big hits, right? There has to be something deeper than the fact that a fast-moving 230-pound human can generate a lot of force.
Maybe it’s from the three-plus years of pent up frustration that comes with never being able to get through a full season healthy.
Maybe it can be traced all the way back to his high school days, when nobody was paying much attention to the talented but raw prospect out of Stafford (Texas) High School.
It’s not as if he’s an angry person. Off the field, Anyama is affable, peppering his conversations with frequent smiles and laughter. But something changes when the uniform slips on. Anyama thinks back on his journey to where he currently stands and has his response.
“I guess I do play angry, to answer your question,” Anyama said.
And an angry Anyama is a force to be reckoned with.
After what coach Mark Hudspeth called an outstanding week of practice, Anyama earned the first start of his senior season last week against Arkansas State, supplanting Darzil Washington.
It was a somewhat curious move, considering that Washington made his first start a week earlier and had a nice game, but Anyama made Hudspeth look like a genius. He created havoc in the Arkansas State backfield, racking up four tackles for loss and a sack while playing essentially as a stand-up end as the Cajuns “Buck” linebacker.
The position allows Anyama to use his natural athleticism and react on the field. Anyama, a dean’s list student who is working toward a degree in biology, perhaps thought too much on the field at times earlier in his career. He thrived on special teams but couldn’t stick as a starter on the defensive unit.
“What we’re asking him to do right now is probably a lot less thinking,” Hudspeth said. “He’s able to rush the quarterback a little better. His thought process is probably a lot less, and he’s able to play a lot harder and utilize his strength, and that’s speed off the edge.
“It’s been a pleasure, really, to see his development, even though it’s late.”
Better late than never, as far as the Cajuns are concerned.
Anyama came to the Cajuns as part of Rickey Bustle’s last recruiting class in 2010. He played virtually everywhere in high school and came to the Cajuns as an unrefined athlete. He redshirted his first year on campus as a receiver.
“He didn’t play a lot of football before his last year or two in high school,” Hudspeth said. “He got here and sort of had to learn the game. But he has stayed the course.”
In his time on campus, Anyama added bulk to his frame. He switched to the defensive side of the ball after showing a knack for making a punishing hit. Now, he’s getting his chance to shine — provided he stays healthy.
That has been an issue for Anyama, who has missed 12 games in his career to various injuries, including six last year and four the year before. Now that he’s healthy and has earned the opportunity to start, his talent is starting to be recognized, though he feels he has always been capable of being the player he is now.
“I’ve always kind of been underrated,” Anyama said. “I don’t really mind all that, I just try everyday to be better. When I get a little recognition, it’s good, but I always feel like I’ve been here.
“Winning and staying healthy, that’s all I care about man. Starting is not important to me.”
Anyama and the Cajuns are doing a little bit of both right now. The Cajuns are looking to win their fourth straight, and Anyama has played in all seven of the Cajuns games.
“Right now, I’m on the verge (of a full season), and I really feel, God willing, that I can keep it up and stay healthy,” Anyama said. “Hopefully I can play every game this year.”