UL's Raymond Calais ready for more after breakout season
Last season was undoubtedly a breakout campaign for running back Raymond Calais.
After primarily returning kicks his freshman and sophomore years, the Cecilia High graduate got a bigger role in the offense in 2018. He carried the ball 81 times for 754 yards and seven touchdowns. His breakout game came against Georgia State, when he ran for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
But those numbers are history, according to Calais. He said he, running backs coach Jabbar Juluke and the entire running backs room is looking to surpass anything they accomplished last season.
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“Coach Juluke showed us the numbers from last season and told us to forget those numbers,” Calais said. “He told us to put the 2018 season behind us. That’s old news now. We have to come out and compete every single day. He wants us to put up bigger numbers and better numbers in 2019.”
Those sentiments are echoed by head coach Billy Napier. Napier said the No. 1 thing the Cajuns learned in 2018 is that hard work pays off.
“If you’re willing to commit yourself to a cause, it will be beneficial over time,” Napier said. “We have to keep putting money in the bank each day and hopefully we will be where we want to be in the end.”
The UL running backs room consists of every type of back needed to be successful. Trey Ragas — who will undergo surgery for a knee injury and is expected to miss most or all of spring — and Ashton Johnson are the bruising backs. Calais and redshirt freshman Chris Smith provide the speed. Elijah Mitchell may be the total package.
Calais said the competition among the running backs is stiff, and he said having so many options and skills in one room is a benefit to maintaining fresh legs and continued health.
“I think as a whole group, we all bring a different skill-set,” Calais said. “We compete with each other and try to make each other better. It’s a fun group.”
Calais’ 92-yard run against Georgia State was an eye-opener to some who weren’t aware of the explosiveness he possessed. He said he and quarterback Levi Lewis are ready to hit more big plays in 2019.
“When me and Levi get in the game, it’s pick your poison,” he said. “He’s dangerous and I’m dangerous. Levi is one our leaders and he continues to push us and make us better.”
Lewis said his approach at the line changes a bit when Calais is in the game. Lewis said if the play calls for Calais to get the ball, he is expecting fireworks.
“Anybody can make a big play when it comes down to it,” Lewis said. “When Ray is in the game, I usually think he’s either going to house it or get like 50. It’s a different look when Ray is in the game.”