FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Boise State football program took the tradition of NFL players visiting their college teams on bye weeks to a new level this week.
Former Broncos tailback Jay Ajayi, a rookie with the Miami Dolphins, spent two days in Boise this week and traveled with Boise State to Saturday’s game at Colorado State.
Ajayi planned to ride the team charter airplane back to Boise after the game and fly to Miami on Sunday.
Former Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor, also a Dolphin, had planned to join Ajayi but wasn’t able to make it, Ajayi said.
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“I wanted to come see these guys play,” said Ajayi, who could have played for the Broncos in 2015 but opted for the NFL instead. “A bunch of them are guys I came in with. I asked coach (Bryan) Harsin (to travel with the team). ... I just wanted to still feel a part of the team with these guys. I wasn’t sure if it would be able to get done.
“I can honestly say that I gave my all to this program. For them to continue to treat me with respect and show me love, it just makes my appreciation for this great program so much more.”
Harsin said bringing Ajayi fit his emphasis on involving former players in the program.
“These are his guys,” Harsin said. “... He’s at another level right now, but still he’s got that Bronco in him.”
Ajayi enjoyed catching up with his former teammates, particularly the tailbacks he shared a meeting room with last year. He served as a mentor last year to sophomore Jeremy McNichols, who is this year’s starter. They still communicate frequently.
McNichols led the nation with 12 touchdowns going into Saturday’s game and added two more. Ajayi tied the school record with 32 touchdowns last year.
McNichols is on a 14-game pace of 32 TDs.
“He makes sure to bring that up every time we talk,” Ajayi said. “He tells me he’s coming for the record. I’m all for it.”
Ajayi cracked a rib in a preseason game and was placed on injured reserve/designated to return, which means he has to sit out half the season. He has been healthy for two or three weeks, he said, but isn’t eligible to practice yet either.
The England native did get to join the Dolphins for their game in London earlier this month. There have been conflicting reports but it appears Ajayi can return Nov. 8 at the Bills.
“There’s been some hurdles out (in Miami) with little minor injuries here and there, but I’m very focused,” he said. “I have a couple weeks left on my short-term IR and after that it’s go time. That’s what I’ve been preparing for all these weeks.”