Who Is Jay Ajayi?

I would wager that most NFL fans do not know the name Jay Ajayi, but Miami Dolphins fans certainly do. The rookie joined the team with high expectations, but looked as if he was failing in the preseason. Ajayi had fumbling issues, was not a good pass blocker, and was working through a hamstring injury in training camp. Then, on the Dolphin’s last preseason game, he broke a rib and was placed on the injured reserve.

Now he has come back from the injury and has played amazing in the small amount of carries he has had. Ajayi’s rookie year has truly been a roller coaster. In this article, we are going to look at who Jay Ajayi is, his performance this season, and what his future might look like.

 

Who is he?

Ajayi was born in London, England to Nigerian parents and didn’t move to America until he was a fourth grader. He attended Frisco Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas, where not only was he a stand out football player, but he also lettered in track and field. His senior year he ran for 2,240 yards and 35 touchdowns. Rivals.com had him rated as a three-star recruit and the 41st best running back out of his class.

Jay Ajayi attended the Boise State and he redshirted as a true freshman. The following season he saw his first action in college. He had 82 attempts for 548 yards and added 4 touchdowns. As you can see in the table below, his numbers went up in every category in each of the next two seasons as he got the ball more and more. His junior year, he ran the ball 347 times for 1,823 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also added 535 receiving yards and 4 receiving touchdowns.

Year

Attempts

Yards

Average

Touchdowns

Freshman (RS)

82

548

6.7

4

Sophomore (RS)

249

1,425

5.7

18

Junior (RS)

347

1,823

5.3

28

 

Towards the end of his junior year, Ajayi announced that he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2015 NFL Draft. He was the only player in FBS history to have 1,800 yard rushing and over 500 yards receiving in a single season.

At the combine, Ajayi was a top performer in the vertical jump (39.0 inches), broad jump (121.0 inches), 20 yard shuttle (4.10 seconds), and 60 yard shuttle (11.10 seconds). He was impressive outside of his slow 40 yard dash (4.57). Ajayi was projected to be a second round draft pick before concerns about his knee popped up. He ended up slipping all the way to the fifth round, where the Dolphins picked him with the 149th overall pick.

 

His Performance

In the last two weeks, the rookie running back has put up some big numbers, albeit in limited touches. He got his first start against the Buffalo Bills in week 9. He carried the ball 5 times for 41 yards, which is an average of 8.2.

This week, the Dolphins played the Philadelphia Eagles and Ajayi was equally as impressive. He carried the ball 6 times for 48 yards, which is right at 8 yards a carry. He actually out rushed Lamar Miller, despite Miller having 10 more rushing attempts. Miller did have 50 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.

That means that Ajayi has 89 yards on only 11 carries to start his young career. 3 of his 11 carries went for 15 or more yards. Needless to say, his coaches are happy.

Dan Campbell told Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post “He’s still up-and-coming.” He also added, “…right now we have a lot of faith in Lamar Miller. But certainly we like the way Jay runs.” Campbell has also commented on Ajayi getting more carries as the season goes on.

 

His Future          

This is tough to predict, but here it goes. For the rest of the season, Ajayi will continue to steal carries from Miller at an increasing rate. He is running far better right now, and the Dolphins need to have that production for their playoff push. Miller will remain the starter for the rest of the season this year, unless there is an injury.

As far as next season goes, Lamar Miller will no longer be a Dolphin. The Dolphins are building a championship team and need to be frugal wherever possible, so they have the money to make the necessary moves to improve their roster.

Ajayi is the far cheaper option. This year Miller will make 3 times as much as the rookie will. Not only that, but Miller’s rookie contract ends this season. Next year, he will be an unrestricted free agent and will be looking for more money than he is making right now.

Because of this, Jay Ajayi will be the feature back in Miami starting in 2016.

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