Dick Harmon: BYU football: Famika Anae finally got his chance to live up to legacy
But everything coach Famika Anae stood for, represented, taught and dreamed of is represented in the grandson's DNA. And the Cougar guard hopes to live up to that legacy.
This came as a reminder to Young Anae on his LDS mission to Texas. One day while knocking on doors in Corpus Christi, a man answered, looked at his nametag and made an inquiry.
"Do you know Famika Anae?" the man asked.
"Yes. He was my grandfather," Elder Anae answered.
"Well, he coached me at Compton Community College, and to this day I consider him the greatest mentor and teacher I ever had. He was a great influence in my life," said the man.
The missionary was stunned.
"Crazy. That kind of put his life in perspective for me. Here I was out in the middle of nowhere, far away from my family or anyone that knew me. Those kinds of things really hit home to me. I hear all the stories from family in Laie, but to hear it from a stranger was a very big deal."
The start by the 6-foot-6, 312-pound Anae last week against Hawaii came after a long road filled with injury and patience. But his impact was immediate.
Seven minutes into the game, the Hawaii defensive tackles he faced, Geordon Hanohano and Siasau Matagiese, were carted off the field.
"I feel bad for those players and wish them well," Anae said. "Nobody wants anyone to get hurt on a play." Anae learned Tuesday that the first guy, Hanohano, is done for the season with a stinger because it was his second incident in a year.
"I don't know how to explain it. I was just looking for work and made contact helmet to helmet. I was trying to make a play and keep our quarterback safe."
Anae, it seems, was a cork ready to pop. He did not start this season because an Achilles tendon injury kept him back. His coach, Mark Weber, needed him to execute enough reps through fall practice and September to see his progress. Once he filled the number and did well, he started him against Hawaii.
"He has explosive power and great football strength," Weber said. "Some guys have great weight-room strength and others have football strength. He is a great athlete who loves football and you can see it by the way he plays."
Famika Anae doesn't have the same body build as his father Robert Anae, a former Cougar and NFL lineman who left BYU as offensive coordinator two seasons ago for Arizona. His father is slender, sleek and built for speed. He was used as a model for the statue that stands near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu of the legendary surfer and Olympic medalist Duke Kahanamoku.
Famika has a build similar to many Samoan football players. He has power and thick legs, massive shoulders and arms. While stockier than his father, his center of gravity is planted in his core and that makes him tough to move on the line. While his father was finesse and speed, Famika is power and strength.
A basketball player at Timpview High before his mission, Famika had ACL surgery on one knee as a freshman and ACL surgery on the other knee as a sophomore. Doctors told him his new ligaments are thicker than the ones he was born with and more suited to carry his weight.
He hopes they hold up.
"It means more that this was my first opportunity to start, to come out and play a hundred miles an hour," said Famika of his obvious physical impact on BYU's O-line.
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