He rushed for over 2,200 yards as a junior at Cecilia High, and another 2,600-plus yards as a senior with 56 combined rushing touchdowns over that span.

So you can see why UL senior running back Raymond Calais has always seen himself as a complete back.

Over his first two seasons with the Ragin’ Cajuns, however, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound speedster combined for 205 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 38 carries. He also ran back two kickoffs for touchdowns in the 2017 season opener against Southeastern.

So you can easily see why so many viewed Calais as a specialty back at the collegiate level going into his junior campaign.

Then came the 2018 season and everything changed for Calais as he exploded for 754 yards and seven touchdowns on 81 carries.

“Last year, I was mainly trying to prove to everybody that I could play running back,” he said. "I think they were just. ... people would just view me as a gadget type of guy. I really didn’t like it. So I kind of played with a chip on my shoulder.”

Fortunately for Calais, UL coach Billy Napier and his staff developed their own impression of the speedy back over time.

“Raymond was a guy when we came in, he wasn’t necessarily a heralded guy,” Napier said. “The reports we got from around the office from the people here before were that he was fast, good returner, but hey, this guy’s not a running back. He’s a slot receiver or whatever.

“All this guy’s done since I’ve been here is master his craft. He’s worked on his footwork, his eye discipline. You go back to his high school tape and the guy was an instinctive, violent, physical runner between the tackles.”

And when Calais got his opportunity to shine on the field after showing his worth in practice, he delivered.

“So we just kept hitting that tree and he just kept showing up and working,” Napier said. “We had Trey (Ragas) and Eli (Mitchell) get nicked up there and he (Calais) cashed in his opportunity and became a guy that we felt like we needed to make sure that when we left the park that we gave him an opportunity to impact the game.”

Now that he’s got the staff’s attention, Calais has plans on reaching higher levels.

“Now this year, I want to expand on my role,” Calais said. “I want to be more confident, be more consistent running the ball inside and catching the ball out of the backfield — pass blocking stuff like that. Just doing the little things that’s going to take us to wins.”

Calais only had six receptions for 69 yards and no touchdowns last season.

“So far, during this camp, I had a really solid camp at catching the ball,” Calais said. “Over the summer, I worked with Ja’Marcus Bradley and coach Tiger Jones at really just improving my route running and catching the ball.

“I would catch about 150 to 200 balls every day after summer workouts on the jugs. I think that’s another part of my game that I have to elevate, because getting me the ball in space and I could be really dangerous.”

Besides his backfield colleagues, Calais has running backs coach Jabbar Juluke there pushing him the entire way.

When national magazines were ranking the UL backs in the top 10 nationally, Juluke was there.

“Coach Juluke sent it to us in a group message and it was like, ‘Don’t let this get in y’all head,' ” Calais said. “'That was last year. This year we’ve got to step it up. Now we have that target on our backs.'

“People are going to try to stop the run and force Levi (Lewis) to make great throws.”

That encouragement transfers to each day in practice as well.

“He just wants us to improve on our blocking and improve on our ball fakes, so we can get our carries whenever we can,” Calais said.

If the past is any indication, Napier fully expects Calais to achieve his offseason goals.

"Raymond’s bigger, stronger and he’s a tremendous person — very humble, very selfless, a great student and a great guy in the community," Napier said. "He’s what you want."

Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.