90i #35: Dami Ayoola July 28, 2013
What I Know About Him:
Ayoola was the sneaky-good player in the 2012 recruiting class. The way I remember it, he verballed the night before the Minnesota game in 2011. We lost, Zook was fired, and then he was back on the market. The first weekend that Tim Beckman was hired (maybe two days after his press conference) he had Ayoola in for a visit and he confirmed his commitment to the program. Which was a surprise to me, given that he had many other options. Ayoola was reportedly down to Illinois and Notre Dame (and had visited Notre Dame the weekend before he verballed to us). But he also had offers from Auburn, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Iowa, and several others.
He comes from arguably the top high school program in the country – St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale. We’ve landed a player from there each of the last three years (Justin DuVernois, then Ayoola, and this year, James Crawford). Which is always a good thing. Players from top programs that play games all over the country are always just a little better prepared for the college experience.
What I Expect From Him:
I’ve been thinking about the 2014 offense a lot lately. A lot. Like, a whole bunch. All the time, really.
Planning for future success in college is never about just saying “we’ll have this guy at tailback and this guy at quarterback and these two receivers”. You have to look at it and say “we have these two quarterbacks and these 5 receivers and those four tailbacks, and from those, we should be able to find a pretty good first string”. Maybe only half of the players you recruit that you think will be impact players down the line ever really turn out to be impact players.
Look at the wide receivers in 2008. We had major impact recruits like Chris James and Marquis Wilkins and Jeff Cumberland and Cordale Scott and Arrelious Benn and Jarred Fayson and then we added a freshman stud in AJ Jenkins (and several other receivers). And out of all of that, I’d say really only half of those guys were major impact players. We had good receivers those years because we recruited seven solid guys and found three or four.
Since recruiting fell off the table at the end of 2009, we really haven’t been able to look at any future rosters like that. But I think we can start to do that with the 2014 offense (defense is a different story, but let’s not talk about that right now). At quarterback, it’s 4-star Wes Lunt vs. 4-star Aaron Bailey. May the best man win. At wide receiver, we just added a few solid jucos (including a 4-star) that will be ready to make a major impact. We’ve actually added six receivers in the past eight months: Dionte Taylor, Marchie Murdock, Mike Dudek, Malik Turner, Tyrin Stone-Davis, and Geronimo Allison. From depth issues to… not.
Which brings me to Ayoola. Adding Ayoola in the 2012 class and Matt Domer in the 2014 class makes me feel pretty good about future tailback rotations. I think Donovonn Young can be a pretty good feature back in 2013 and 2014, but there’s depth behind him in Josh Ferguson and Dami Ayoola.
The test for this year – will Ayoola climb past Josh Ferguson and become the second tailback? Ferguson was perfect for the Chris Beatty/Billy Gonzales offense last year – what’s the role for a shifty, speedy tailback in this offense? We shall see in Rantoul. Bill Cubit says he wants to go more “north-south” with his running game, and that benefits Young and Ayoola.