Change is never an easy thing to accept – especially when it happens often – however, the exceptional ones find ways to adapt, move on and become better.
For a week, Eyabi Anoma had fans of Alabama football in panic mode.
The talented five-star outside linebacker put his name in the NCAA transfer portal, following a 2018 season that ended without a national title for the Crimson Tide. He begged former Tide defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi to put him in the game versus Clemson; unfortunately, the Maryland native only touched the field when it became too late for Alabama to make a rally.
The two things that Anoma holds close to his heart are the women in his life and playing for Nick Saban.
When a personal issue took place back home, Saban gave Anoma an opportunity to “sort things out.”
While he was not able to make the trip to Maryland, the returning sophomore spoke to yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine during the media day event prior to the Captial One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. He was not only candid about his grandmother, who was sick at the time, but he also described the thoughts that travel his mind when he is on the field.
“When I’m on the field, all I think about is kill everyone that tries to prevent me from sacking the quarterback and then get the quarterback,” Anoma said.
“The guys protecting the quarterback are those preventing me from helping my grandmother, and that QB represents the money.”
As for his commitment to Tide football, Anoma made it clear that he was staying before the offseason came in and would later remove his name from the portal.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder has been compared to Derrick Thomas and Tim Williams, both of which are two of the most feared sack specialists to come from the program. In 12 games, the phenom totaled nine tackles, one tackle for loss and one quarterback pressure – en route to earning a spot on the Southeastern Conference’s All-Freshman Team from the league’s coaches.
One of the good things about change is that is provides someone with a clean slate.
The departure of Lupoi to the Cleveland Browns opens a chance for Anoma to prove he belongs on the field as a starter. Saban’s decision to return Sal Sunseri to the coaching staff was major, due to his experience with outside ‘backers and his background in being tough on everyone.
Lupoi had moments of having favorites among players, as opposed to Sunseri, who will only play the ones that consistently show him their importance.
Keep in mind, Williams did not see action in his first two seasons at the Capstone.
A former five-star from Baton Rouge, La., it was the combination of Williams and Lupoi together in 2015 that launched him into being a force.
After struggling to find his way in 2013 and 2014, Williams exploded with 19.5 sacks and 28.5 tackles for loss combined for 2015 and 2016 – earning him a third-round grade and he was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Behind him, the Tide won a pair of conference championships (2015-16) and a College Football Playoff title in the 2015 season.
He had over 50 career sacks at St. Frances Academy, but Anoma is ready to be turned lose at Alabama.
Spring practice returns in a few weeks and will be a time for him to show how much he has learned and how prepared he is to take over. With the team in search of avenging itself from an embarrassing loss, keep all eyes on No. 9’s hunger throughout spring and summer.
It’s time for Anoma to wreak havoc.
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