New Mexico Lobos Football – vs. UTEP Miners
When/Where: 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30 – Branch Field/University Stadium
On The Air: 770-AM-KKOB/Lobo Radio; Mountain West Network
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
In football, the roar of the crowd hit David Anaya early – and hard. It was loud and it was for him and he liked it. The roar dug itself into the fiber of his sporting soul and took root. He was hooked.
It didn’t start that way.
David Anaya was 7-years-old the first time his father tried to enroll Anaya in Roswell’s youth football league. The young Anaya wasn’t happy about it.
“I was terrified,” said Anaya, now a 195-pound junior running back at New Mexico. “At first, I was real scared of the game and the contact. I wasn’t that physical a kid. I asked my dad not to sign me up.”
Anaya, so it speak, sat on the sidelines for two more years. At nine, he decided to give football a go. He had immediate success. In fact, the seductive roar descended on Anaya in his first game on his first-ever play.
“I had this crushing blow on a wide receiver,” he said. “It was the first play of my first game. It was a wide-receiver screen and he fumbled and I picked it up and ran about 30 yards for a score. It was a YAFL game and you could hear all the parents yelling and it was a rush to hear the road of the crowd. Good times.”
There were a lot of good times for Anaya growing up in Roswell. He ran for 5,733 yards and 70 touchdowns at Roswell Goddard High. He placed four consecutive years as a wrestler and was state champion his senior year (going 4-3-2-1 at the state meet).
He came to New Mexico in 2012 as a walk-on.
“It’s a humbling experience to come into a program as a walk-on especially coming from all that hype you get in high school,” said Anaya, who ran for 4,601 yards in his final two seasons at Goddard. “But it’s also a fire your belly to prove yourself.”
Anaya came to UNM humble but confident. This was not the 7-year-old worried about contact. In the summer prior to his freshman season, he was working out with some Lobos in some voluntary summer passing drills: offense vs. defense.
The Lobo rookie looked across the line and called out the Lobos’ starting linebacker: Joe Stoner.
“I wanted to prove myself and show the guys that I’m not afraid of anyone on the roster so I called out Joe,” said Anaya. “I said I wanted him to guard me one-on-one. It was a passing drill where you run a route against a defender.
“I didn’t catch the pass, but it was a little behind me. Joe will tell you he had me covered.”
Still, a point was made. Anaya didn’t come to New Mexico to sit the bench. He didn’t necessarily come to be a star either, but he came to contribute.
“My decision was to come here and be part of the common goal and my mindset was that I would do whatever that took,” he said. “I got a lot of division-two offers out of high school, but I figured if I was going to put in all that work I would do it at the highest level. I believed I could compete at this level, so I had to come and prove it.”
Anaya contributed early. In part, because of his attitude and versatility. In part, because of his talent. Lobo Coach Bob Davie put Anaya on scholarship prior to the 2013 season – a season in which Anaya played in all 12 games. He had 11 carries in 2013 for 103 yards (long of 51 yards) and returned 11 kickoffs. He wants to do more in 2014.
Anaya is a good runner. He has good balance and there is some power in his 5-foot-9, 195-pound frame. He is not a blaze of speed like Carlos Wiggins or Jhurell Pressley. He doesn’t quite have the power of the 205-pound Crusoe Gongbay. But he has a little of both.
Anaya needs to be running back that hits holes quickly and then quickly cuts to space or away from initial contact. He needs to be shifty, throw out a shoulder, head or hip fake -- and go, go, go. Coach Davie said Anaya will play a lot of football in 2014.
Really, that’s all Anaya wants.
“I’m just here to help the team however I can, whatever it takes to win,” he said. “Of course, I want to be out there and contribute on the field.
“But I’ve always been humble about my role. In high school, I gave credit to my teammates and I meant it. I might have been in a role that highlighted me, but those guys up front do all the hard work.
“I have always looked at football as a team sport with team goals and nothing about that has changed.”