Frisco ISD Focus Magazine May 2018 - Page 39

From Liberty High School to Super Bowl Champion Jay Ajayi looks downfield for an opening as he runs the ball during the Philadelphia Eagles’ win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. When Jay Ajayi visited the Liberty High School campus this spring, he was amazed at how the neighborhoods around his alma mater had changed. But as he strolled through the campus to get to the soccer field, where his sister Sarah was playing a match that evening for the Redhawks, he still felt at home. “Frisco is a growing area, and it’s re- ally cool to see everything that’s going on,” Ajayi said. “It’s crazy to think it was seven years ago when I graduated. Time really does fly.” It has been quite a seven-year flight for Ajayi, who in February became a Super Bowl champion with the Philadelphia Eagles. The running back, who graduat- ed from Liberty in 2011, starred at Boise State and played his first two NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins. He was traded to the Eagles midway through his third season and helped the franchise win its first Super Bowl. Ajayi was surprised by the trade, espe- cially after he was a Pro Bowl selection in his second season, but he saw the trade as an opportunity. “I just embraced it,” he said. “I was grateful to be part of a new team and Jay Ajayi says his journey to the NFL began after coaches, teammates helped him fall in love with football. a new brotherhood, and after they em- braced me, then it was just about doing whatever I could to help the team win.” At Liberty, Ajayi led the Redhawks to a 12-1 record his senior year and became one of the top running backs in the Dallas area despite not playing football until he got to middle school. Soccer was the first love for the London-born Ajayi, who moved to the United States when he was 7 years old. He tried football at Clark Middle School, and although it took some time to learn the game, his speed and agility helped him stand out. “My middle school coaches at Clark, the guys who kind of started up with me, that’s when it all started,” Ajayi said. “I was playing with my friends, and that’s when I started falling in love with the game.” Liberty defensive coordinator Brandon Gonzales, who coached Ajayi at Clark Middle School and then at Liberty, said Ajayi was a “big team-first guy” who loved to see his teammates succeed. Ajayi, now 24 years old, still enjoys the team nature of football as he plays the sport at the highest level. His football goal now is to keep moving forward and avoid being satisfied. “Already being a Super Bowl champi- on and a Pro Bowl player, that’s a special thing, but I’m not done yet,” Ajayi said. “I’m excited to push myself and see what else I can do in this league. It’s really important to me to have a lasting legacy.” He wants that legacy to extend off the field, as well, and he wants to make an impact in Frisco. He plans to be in Frisco this summer for the launch of the Jay Ajayi Foundation. He’s also planning a free youth football camp at Memorial Stadium in June. “I’m going to bring some of my oth- er guys from the League, and hopefully we’ll have a good turnout,” Ajayi said. “It should be a really fun ex- perience.” n Ajayi’s graduation photo from the Liberty High School Class of 2011. FOCUS | 39