LAFAYETTE — When Remaine Douglas had to get his strength and flexibility back, he had a head start thanks to a diverse sports background that began 1,300 miles away from Lafayette.
When Douglas, a junior defensive lineman for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, faced the prospect of recovering from a torn ACL that forced him to miss the final six games last season, his athletic background born in Jamaica helped out.
“Basketball is my first love,” Douglas said. “I started playing football in the ninth grade. I started getting good at it, and eventually, I fell in love with the sport.”
Douglas, a Jamaica native who graduated from high school in Coral Springs, Florida, also had soccer on his sports list. That decision helped Douglas when he had to regain his footing after the injury.
“Soccer helped me out with footwork.”
In 20 games during his first two seasons, Douglas had 12 tackles and a pair of sacks. In addition to those contributions, he has learned the value of making sure his task is done within the framework of the Cajuns’ team plan.
“Even if you don’t make a play, as long as you are doing your job, it’s all helping out the unit. I just have to do my job, and everything else will fall in place.”
First-year Cajuns defensive line coach Levorn Harbin has seen Douglas’ injury recovery move at a good pace thanks to a couple of factors.
“He is a student of the game, and he has tremendous athletic ability,” Harbin said. “We are trying to make sure we keep the physical part in his game, too. Going from last year to this year, he has improved. From watching last year’s film, I have been pleased on that standpoint: the physicality part. He has to be consistent about that. If he is consistent, it will help us out a lot.”
That athleticism has consistently helped Douglas at the start of plays. Cajuns’ coach Mark Hudspeth praised Douglas’ improvement on his actions and reactions as plays progress.
“Remaine has always had a good get off (the first step at the snap),” Hudspeth said. “He has gotten better at using his hands. He has a good nose for the ball, too.”
Considering Douglas brings a 6-foot-3, 303-pound frame with that burst at the snap, he provides a skill set that enables him to play at either a defensive end spot or in the interior of the line.
“He is very versatile,” Harbin said. “That is a great thing. It really adds another guy to your depth chart.”
When Douglas is sizing up the other guy across from him, he looks for tendencies: is a guy leaning in a certain direction? But the top goal in his mind remains the same.
“If he is leaning one way ... in my head, I might know he is going that way, but at the same time, I have to do my job first.”
Harbin said that focus puts players in a position to get some individual glory.
“If you don’t do your job exactly, you are going to miss out on (making) a play,” Harbin said. “If you do your job, your plays will come to you.”