INDIANAPOLIS– The storylines are already written up in the event Jay Ajayi winds up a Dallas Cowboy, and they are almost too good to be believed.
In the event the Cowboys need a running back this spring – either as a replacement for DeMarco Murray or perhaps as an insurance policy for Joseph Randle – Ajayi is right in their wheelhouse as a potential second or third-round pick.
Ajayi isn't a name with the same national recognition as, say, Todd Gurley. But it should sound familiar to football fans in the Dallas area. Ajayi attended high school in Frisco, Texas, at Frisco Liberty High School, where he racked up 2,240 yards as a senior.
"Growing up, watching the Cowboys and watching the way Emmitt Smith ran, how great of a running back he was, it really motivated me to just try to do great things just like him," he said.
It wasn't destined to be a storybook Texas career, though. Ajayi said he was recruited by the likes of Baylor, North Texas and TCU coming out of high school, but he didn't receive in-state scholarship offers. He subsequently wound up at Boise State, where he compiled 3,796 yards and 50 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.
"Just being from Texas, you kind of want to stay in state and have your parents and family be able to watch you play every weekend," Ajayi said. "But I'm not disappointed with the outcome of my decision of going to Boise State, because we were able to accomplish a lot at Boise State and I'm here today because of that decision."
The mention of Boise State shouldn't be lost on any Cowboys fans who follow the draft. Much like Oklahoma State, the Cowboys have shown quite a tendency for drafting Boise State Broncos in recent years. It began in 2008 when they drafted Orlando Scandrick in the fifth round, and they followed that up by selecting Tyrone Crawford No. 81 overall in 2012.
Last spring, the Cowboys traded up to draft Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence – who Ajayi said is a close friend – at the 34th spot. Ajayi said the Cowboys' draft preferences haven't gone unnoticed in Boise.
"It feels good to know that teams like the Cowboys really enjoy drafting Boise State guys," he said. "They know that they're well coached guys, guys who go into work every day that will grind for your team and will do their job. It's cool. We talk about how so many of our Boise State guys are on the Cowboys. We talk about it."
If the Cowboys need a replacement for Murray, Ajayi certainly fits the bill. His Combine weigh-in puts him at 6-0, 221 pounds, and he's proven he can carry the load. Much like Murray, Ajayi was Boise State's bell cow, as he carried the ball 398 times in 2014. "To be able to be on the field three downs you have to be good enough running the ball on first and second down and being capable of picking up blitzes on third down, catching the ball out of the backfield on third down. That's where a lot of these games are won -- converting on those third downs and getting more first downs. You have to find running backs who are able to do that."