Anae to continue football career

Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, Famika Anae will continue along the path of football, but this time not as a player. Instead, he hopes to one day become a college coach.

It was two hours before game time. Famika Anae was getting ready to face the Aggies of Utah State one week after having one of the best performances by a BYU offensive lineman in recent memory. The Cougars were in need of fire and physical play on the offensive line, and they had found that in Anae.

However, Anae was about to find out that he had already played his last football game.

"I found out literally two hours before the game," said Anae. "Coach Mendenhall brought me into his office and Dr. Kimble and Coach Weber were there. Dr. Kimble informed me that my knees weren't good enough to go anymore, and for my safety and good health would in his good conscience not clear me to go anymore.

"I knew that I had problems with my knee, but to hear the news was pretty devastating. I had a really good support group around me with the coaches, the players, the athletic director and even the vice president of the school. Then of course uncle Marky [Atuaia] was also there for me as well."

So instead of preparing to play that night, Anae had to notify his loved ones.

"After I received the news, I called my parents at the stadium and I sat on the steps right outside the locker room," said a somber Anae. "I told them what was going on and it was really tough."

Anae's father is, of course, former BYU offensive coordinator and current Arizona assistant Robert Anae, who is known more for his straightforward and dry approach rather than having a sense of humor. But upon hearing his son heartbroken and emotional over the phone, he said the right words that only a father could say to his son.

"He told me something really funny," said Famika with a laugh. "He said, ‘Football is something you do and not who you are. Heavenly Father doesn't give a crap if you play sports. He cares if you're a good, hardworking man of values.'"

It wasn't long until the younger Anae was joined by his mother and father in Provo.

"My dad flew down right after the Stanford game and my mom was with me that night and was just there with me," said Anae. "It was a tough time but I've seen the support system come to light and it's been huge for me."

With the support of his parents, Anae coped with the harsh reality that his college football career was now over. But, it was the love and support he received from his band of brothers that really touched him.

"Man, that was a big deal," recalled Anae. "Coach Weber brought us all into the meeting room because no one was in there. He allowed me to have a couple of words with the guys and that was really emotional, minly because I wasn't going to be out there with that specific group of guys. I have grown really close with all of these guys and this position group, and I knew I would no longer be out there with those guys anymore.

"After I spoke to the guys, and we had our words, they all told me that they were going to play the way that I played the game. That was really, really touching and moving to me. The thing is, they didn't just say that, but they showed it. It looked like they came out afterwards and really went after it. Solo [Kafu] stepped in and did a tremendous job. Our interior linemen and Ryker Mathews and Braden Brown did a good job. They said they were going to go out and emulate the way I played the game, and in moving forward they did that."

His father had been an assistant coach under Coach Mendenhall for six years, from 2005 through 2010, prior to joining the staff at the University of Arizona. Now, Coach Mendenhall has taken great interest in the son of his former offensive coordinator.

"Coach Mendenhall is taking care of me, he really is," said Anae. "This week has been my first week as ‘Coach Anae!'"

Anae then began to laugh after thinking about what he just said.

"I've talked about it with my parents and with Coach Mendenhall pretty thoroughly. I just don't see myself being away from the game of football. I will pursue a college football coaching career and finish my undergrad and assistant work here, and then after that maybe G.A. here or in Tucson.

Despite the fact that he is no longer playing, Anae is not distancing himself from the Cougar football program.

"Right now, I'm fully involved with the team," Anae said. "I'm grateful for my role that Coach Mendenhall has allowed me to have. He expressed to me that he wants me to be close with the team and here every day and with every second that I have. I'm just grateful for him and for every opportunity that he's given me and all the stuff that I have."

Naturally, he's spending his time with his former positions group.

"I'm working with Coach Weber and the offensive line group," said Famike with a laugh. "I'm kind of helping the linemen to polish up their tenacity, so I'm working with the younger guys and helping them to be more physical and fire off the ball and things like that."

Not only is Anae helping to build that physical culture by helping others emulate his style of play, but he's also involved in helping to refine their technique as well.

"I'm kind of a motivator and helping them with their tenacity, their punching and really getting after it," said Anae. "Every little fundamental thing that I see to help our guys get an edge, I'm going to help them. That's something Coach Weber wants me to do, so I'll research and help our guys get ready as best they can."

So while the young prodigy works hard to help prepare the guys he once played alongside, he is moving forward with his sights sets on a coaching future. In fact, Anae said he would love to one day be a Cougar assistant coach.

"I would go coach anywhere, but I have a special place for BYU in my heart, as my whole family does. It would be a great opportunity for me and something I would love to have in the future."

He may have only started one game as a BYU Cougar, but that one game set the tone for his teammates and gave them an example of how to play. Now that Anae is changing uniforms from a player to a budding coach, Cougar fans everywhere hope the best for him.

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