Oluwadamilola Jonathan Ajayi (born June 15, 1993) is a British American football running back for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Boise State and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

 

 

Early years

Ajayi was born in London, England, on June 15, 1993, to Nigerian parents and moved to Maryland in the United States when he was seven years old in 2000.[2][3] He eventually moved to Texas, where he attended Frisco Liberty High School. As a senior on the football team, he rushed for 2,240 yards and had 35 touchdowns. He also earned one varsity letter in track & field as a member of the 4x400-meter (3:21.75), 4 × 200 m (1:29.44), and 4 × 100 m (42.86) district championship teams.[5]

Considered a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, he was ranked as the 41st best running back prospect of his class.[6]

College career

Ajayi was redshirted as a true freshman at Boise State University in 2011. In October 2011, he was arrested for shoplifting after stealing a pair of sweatpants at a local Walmart and was later sentenced to five days in jail.[7] As a redshirt freshman in 2012, he played in 11 games. He had 82 rushes for 548 yards and four touchdowns, including 118 yards and a touchdown on just six carries against New Mexico in his second career game. As a sophomore in 2013, he started 12 of 13 games and rushed for 100+ yards in six of them, including 24 carries for 222 yards and three touchdowns in game seven against Nevada. He ended the season having carried the ball 249 times for 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns.[8] As a junior in 2014, he became the first Boise State player to rush for 100+ yards in 10 games in a season, including two 200+ yard performances against Colorado St and Utah St. He ended his season with a 134-yard, three touchdown performance in the Broncos' 38–30 victory over the Arizona Wildcats in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl.[10] He finished the season ranked fifth in the nation with a school-record 1,823 rushing yards and second nationally only to Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon with 28 rushing touchdowns (also a school record). Ajayi finished his final season at Boise State having accounted for 41.3% of the team's total yards and touchdowns, third among running back prospects entering the 2015 NFL Draft, trailing only Melvin Gordon and Indiana's Tevin Coleman.[19] He was named a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection for the second consecutive season and earned third-team All-American honors by the Associated Press.[2]

On December 21, 2014, Ajayi announced that he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2015 NFL Draft.[2] He finished his collegiate career with 678 rushes for 3,796 yards and 50 rushing touchdowns, which ranked third, third, and tied for second on the Boise State career lists. He is the only player in Boise State history with three games of 200+ yards rushing.

Career statistics
 RushingReceiving
YearTeamAttYdsAvgLngTDRecYdsTD
2012Boise State825486.77141140
2013Boise State2491,4255.77118222221
2014Boise State3471,8235.37428505354
Career6783,7965.67450737715

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
HtWt40‑yd dash10-yd split20-yd split20‑ss3‑coneVert jumpBroadBP
6 ft 0 in
(1.83 m)
228 lb
(103 kg)
4.57 s1.59 s2.66 s4.10 s7.10 s39 in
(0.99 m)
10 ft 1 in
(3.07 m)
19 reps
All values from NFL Combine and Boise State Pro Day[2]

Miami Dolphins

2015 season

Ajayi was drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 149th overall pick by the Miami Dolphins.[2] On May 7, 2015, the Dolphins signed him to a four-year, $2.50 million rookie contract, which included a signing bonus of $220,813.[2]

On September 6, 2015, Ajayi was placed on injured reserve/designated to return due to broken ribs he suffered in the Dolphins' last exhibition game.[2] On November 8, 2015, he made his NFL debut against the Buffalo Bills and rushed five times for 41 yards (8.2 average). He scored his first professional touchdown against the San Diego Chargers in a 30-14 defeat. He finished his rookie season with 49 carries for 187 yards (3.8 average) and one touchdown. He also recorded seven receptions for 90 yards.[2]

2016 season

After the Dolphins lost starting running back Lamar Miller to the Houston Texans via free agency, Ajayi was appointed the de facto starter going into the season.[2] However, he was declared the backup after free agent running back Arian Foster supplanted him as the starter during training camp. After growing disgruntled, head coach Adam Gase deactivated him for the season opener and Ajayi was left in Miami as the team traveled to Seattle. He was activated the following week and had five carries for 14 yards against the New England Patriots after Foster was sidelined in the second half due to a groin injury.[2] After Foster's injury and eventual in-season retirement, Ajayi settled into a role as the Dolphins' lead running back.

Ajayi followed up a Week 6 204-yard and two touchdown performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 214-yard and one touchdown effort against AFC East rival Buffalo in Week 7, becoming only the fourth player in NFL history along with O. J. Simpson (twice), Earl Campbell, and former Miami Dolphin Ricky Williams to rush for over two hundred yards in two consecutive games.[2][3] Ajayi was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week two weeks in a row for his 200+ rushing yards in back-to-back games in Weeks 6 and 7. In Week 16, on Christmas Eve, Ajayi recorded a third 200-yard game, again at the expense of the Buffalo Bills, including a 57-yard rush to set Andrew Franks up to kick a game-winning field goal in overtime. With his 32 carries for 206 yards and a touchdown, he became only the fourth player in NFL history to rush over 200 yards in three games in a single season,[3] and the only player to do it as early as his second season. As a result of his Week 16 performance, he became one of only 15 players in NFL history with three or more career 200+ yard rushing games. In the 30-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, he had 16 carries for 33 yards in his playoff debut.[3] As a result of his successful season in 2016, he was named to the AFC roster for the 2017 Pro Bowl. In the Pro Bowl, he had seven rushes for 18 yards.[3] He was ranked 69th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017 list by his fellow players.[3]

2017 season

Ajayi entered the 2017 season as the Dolphins' top running back. The Dolphins did not play in Week 1 due to Hurricane Irma, so Ajayi made his season debut in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers, where he had 28 carries for 122 yards in the 19–17 win.[3] After just 16 and 46 yards in Weeks 3 and 4, Ajayi rebounded for 77 yards against the Tennessee Titans and 130 yards against the Atlanta Falcons. He had just 74 yards total in his next two games, and through Week 8 was the only NFL rusher with 100+ carries yet to record a rushing touchdown.[3][3]

Philadelphia Eagles

On October 31, 2017, Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2018 fourth round draft pick.[3][3] In Ajayi's debut with the Eagles, he rushed for 77 yards on eight carries and one touchdown in a 51–23 rout of the Denver Broncos five days after being traded. His longest being a 48 yard rush for a touchdown. In week 11 Ajayi rushed for 91 yards on 7 carries against the Dallas Cowboys helping his team increase their record to 9-1. In the game he had a career high 71 yard rush in the third quarter.

Career statistics
GeneralRushingReceiving
SeasonTeamGPGSAttYardsY/AY/GTDsFumbsTgtRecYardsY/RY/GTDs
2015Miami90491873.820.8101179012.910.00
2016Miami15122611,2724.984.88435271515.610.10
2017Miami771384653.466.4012014674.89.60
Career31194471,9244.362.19566483086.49.90

Personal life

Ajayi took part in the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign in the 2016 season. The campaign allowed players to wear custom cleats supporting their favorite charities. His cause was "Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia". He is a lifelong fan of Arsenal F.C. in the English Premier League.