The running back room referred to as the “showroom” has many talents. One would say it is one of the most complete and dynamic running back rooms throughout college football. In this room, all running backs possess special skills. Inside this showroom full of talent is one eruptive Louisiana running back who is known for illuminating the field.
Raymond Calais is known for his fiery explosiveness and elite speed, and has been known as such ever since his breakout season. He broke out into an open field in 2018 against Georgia State for a 92-yard run touchdown, setting the school record for the longest rush in school history. That’s when everyone realized the Ragin’ Cajuns had fireworks in their midst, a firework such as Calais that could erupt at any moment during the game.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Breaux Bridge native started his career at Cecilia High. Calais became the school record holder in rushing, going for nearly 5,000 yards in his high school career. Along with the records, he gained many awards such as the Class 4A All-State Offensive MVP his senior year, and he was named the Gatorade Louisiana Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
One of Louisiana’s coveted assets in their game plan is their ability to have multiple game-changers in their offensive system. Most knew of running backs Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell and quarterback Levi Lewis, but Calais decided to burst out the shadows, gaining the title as a game-changer.
Head Coach Billy Napier doesn’t fail to recognize Calais’s special abilities, but is more impressed with how the senior running back encompasses everything they want in the Louisiana culture and how Calais earned his right into the offensive system for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
“Raymond is a great representation of our team,” Napier said. “There were times when he’d go in the locker room and have three or four touches, and not a whisper out of the guy when he wasn’t getting the touches. He is a selfless guy, a good team player.”
Now, Calais has earned his touches.
In the 2018 season, Calais carried the ball 81 times for 754 yards and seven touchdowns. The most standout game for this Ragin’ Cajun running back was against Georgia State, where he ran for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Calais became the primary return specialist for the Ragin’ Cajuns, averaging 25.9 yards per kick return attempt.
He ended the season third on the team for rushing yards and 14th in the FBS for return average yards. Finishing the season with 908 yards in returns on 35 attempts.
But Calais no longer looks at what he did in the last season. Calais credits that mindset to Louisiana running back coach Jabbar Juluke, who made it clear that those numbers no longer matter, and the only numbers to be focused on are in 2019.
“He told us to put the 2018 season behind us; that’s old news now,” Calais said. “We have to come out and compete every single day. He wants us to put up bigger numbers and better numbers in 2019.”
And one would say Calais is trying to do exactly that. In the season opener loss against Mississippi State, Calais recorded 80 yards in receiving on eight attempts, with the longest reception against the Bulldogs being 26 yards. Calais made his presence felt in the home opener against Liberty, the explosive back rushed for 111 yards on eight attempts with his longest attempt going for 68 yards.
With the expectations undoubtedly high for the Ragin’ Cajun senior running back, Calais has received national attention.
Calais also became one of many players in the FBS to be on the Reese’s Senior Bowl watchlist.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl showcases the top players in college football to play in front of NFL scouts and among other elite players. The watchlist encompasses the players they feel should be looked out for during the season to gain a spot on the 110-man roster in this premier all-star game.
But this attention comes as no surprise to teammates such as quarterback, Levi Lewis. Calais said he admires Lewis’s ability to lead and brags that, when both are in the game, it is a pick-your-poison situation.
For the 2019 season, Lewis also has high sediments about Calais, believing that anytime he touches the ball one of two things will happen.
“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.”
Calais is looking to change the game any way he can during the season. So for Ragin’ Cajun fans to enjoy the firework show named Calais and for the unlucky defenders on the other side of the ball, make sure to read the warning sign. Explosives are very dangerous.