In another life Boise State junior running back Jay Ajayi could have been a star on the soccer field instead of being one on the blue.
Ajayi is one of college football’s most elite running backs and the star of the Boise State football team. Last season he ran for 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns. He is on the Doak Walker and Maxwell Award watch lists, given to college football’s best running back and college player, respectively. But did you know he could have been another type of football star?
“I love football, but soccer is right there up with it,” Ajayi said.
Ajayi could have easily instead been a soccer player for the Nigerian national soccer team.
Before Ajayi moved to the United States from London, he was an avid soccer player with dreams of turning professional.
“My dad at the time knew a lot of guys on the Nigerian national team,” Ajayi said. “Also, one of my coaches in my club team was one of the coaches on the national team and told me if I was serious about trying out, I should talk to him— so I had some opportunities.”
When his dad got a job as an information technologist, Ajayi and his family moved to Texas. It was there, at the age of eight years old, that he picked up the game of football.
“I went to a practice with one of my classmates and they mistook me for one of their team players,” Ajayi said. “They called me over and I grabbed a football, ran the ball.”
It was official: he was hooked.
“It made me watch the great backs like Marshall Faulk and Emmett Smith,” Ajayi said. “How they ran the ball with so much passion. It made me love the game even more and I have been a runnig back ever since.”
With soccer opportunities back home and football opportunities in the US, Ajayi and his family had a decision to make.
In the end, Ajayi and his family felt that the US was the best place for them to be and would provide them the best opportunities.
“I had made a lot of friends and I have kind of built a new life here,” Ajayi said. “I wasn’t ready to make a huge life change and go back. I just felt that playing football would end up being the right path for me.”
The result of the decision not only turned Ajayi into a star, but turned his entire family into big football fans.
“My whole family is into football now,” Ajayi said. “They love what I am doing now.”
With what appears to be a promising football career ahead of him, Ajayi seems to have made the right choice. He couldn’t be happier with his decision all those years ago.
“I am in a great college whose fans are super passionate about their team,” Ajayi said. “I am living the dream in playing college football at the highest level at one of the greatest colleges in America and I have no regrets at all. What more could I ask for.”