Former Bronco Star Making Strides at the Next Level

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Cameron Gray

Former football star and Boise State alumnus, Jay Ajayi, has continued to impress at the post-collegiate level, very much like he did in college.

After leaving Boise State ranked one of the top-three in school history when it came to rushes, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns, Ajayi was selected with the 149th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.

Ajayi was predicted by many analysts to have an immediate role within the offense as a backup to Running Back Lamar Miller. However, Ajayi suffered a cracked rib in the Dolphins pre-season finale and was forced to miss the first eight weeks of the season.

Ajayi made his NFL debut on Nov. 8, 2015 against the Buffalo Bills and rushed five times for 41 yards.

Ajayi finished his rookie season with 49 carries, for 187 yards and one touchdown.

Going into his sophomore season, Ajayi was appointed the de facto starter due to the departure of then starter, Lamar Miller. However, that did not last long.

Free-agent Running Back Arian Foster was signed by the Dolphins and took over the role of starting running back coming out of training camp.

Head Coach Adam Gase deactivated Ajayi for the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks. Ajayi became disgruntled for not being named the starter for the first game of the season, Ajayi did not make the trip with the team to Seattle.

On Oct. 16, 2016, Ajayi rushed for of 204 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 30-15 victory. He followed this performance by rushing for a career high of 214 yards against the Buffalo Bills that resulted in a 28-25 victory the following week.

“All credit to the o-line,” Ajayi told NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. “These past two weeks, getting all those guys back healthy has been a huge confidence boost for me and the rest of the guys.”

Head coach Adam Gase credited Ajayi’s comeback to 10 bad days.

“He had 10 bad days there from the fourth preseason game to the first game, but he’s been great every day besides having that little rough spot,” Gase said to NBC’s Pro Football Talk. “He’s done a great job grabbing this thing and taking advantage of it, and he’s done everything we needed him to do.”

Ajayi joined some impressive company by rushing for 200 rush yards in back-to-back weeks. Only four players in NFL history have ever accomplished this feat, the other three being Pro

Football Hall of Famers OJ Simpson — twice — Earl Campbell, and former Dolphins Running Back Ricky Williams.

Ajayi was also named AFC Player of the Week two weeks in a row for both of these performances. However, Ajayi wasn’t done. On Dec. 12, 2016, he rushed for 206 yards on 32 carries against the Buffalo Bills in a 34-31 overtime victory.

Ajayi became the fourth player in NFL history to rush for over 200 yards in three games in the same season, and the only player to do so in as soon as his sophomore season.

Ajayi ended his sophomore season with 260 rushing attempts for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns.

As a result of this outstanding season, Ajayi was selected to the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl as a replacement for Buffalo Bills Running Back Lesean McCoy, becoming the only Boise State Bronco in the Pro Bowl this season.

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