Best friends become benevolent rivals
Comets Ajayi, Anderson attend opposing colleges
Published: Monday, May 21, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 16:05
“My first love was baseball,” he said. “After a while it got boring. With basketball, I knew I was good, but not that good. In seventh or eighth grade I decided to try basketball for one more year then I would focus on football.”
Making the journey from youth athletics to collegiate football along with Ajayi is his younger brother, current San Joaquin Delta College defensive back Matthew Ajayi.
“We did everything together,” Matthew Ajayi said. “When he started playing sports, I started playing sports. Growing up, I always wanted to do what he was doing.”
Ajayi said he admires his older brother’s determination and drive, which enables him to fight through adversity.
“Since we were younger, there was always someone who told him he wasn’t good enough or strong enough (to succeed in football),” he said.
CCC’s second-year football coach Alonzo Carter could attest to the negativity Malcolm Ajayi faced coming to a community college immediately following high school instead of receiving a scholarship to a four-year college.
“Malcolm wanted to prove himself,” Carter said about the sophomore who was a redshirt during the coach’s first year at the helm. “Because of an injury he couldn’t play, so he would brag about his high school accolades and Jeff was the same way.”
The admiration expressed by Matthew Ajayi is mutual between the brothers. Malcolm Ajayi said he and his younger sibling did everything together as youths and that they talk daily.
“He’s a smart kid,” Malcolm Ajayi said. “All through high school he helped me with my homework. He motivates me to do better. If I need advice, I would ask him before anybody.”
Sept. 1 is fewer than four months away, but judging from Anderson and Ajayi’s trash talk, one would think the game is next week. Franklin jokingly said she has already had to break up a few “scuffles” between the two.
“Sept. 1, 2012, the talking stops,” Anderson said. “In my head, I’m thinking, ‘I’m not losing to this guy.’ We played together for a year and a half, and I’m going to go at him and he’ll go at me. But I’m going to win that game.”
Anderson’s Tigers finished last in the Southwestern Athletic Conference West Division, with a 4-7 overall record, including a loss to Prairie View A&M (5-6 overall, 5-4 in the SWAC West).
“We’ve always talked about playing against each other,” Ajayi said. “We’ll say what’s up to each other before the game, but we both know we’ll be ready to compete.”
The big game has supporters of Anderson and Ajayi virtually split in terms of who to root for.
“I’ve always been an offensive type of a girl, but I like to watch the defense, as long as they’re not messing with my baby,” Franklin said with a laugh.
“Malcolm told me I would have to make my own jersey. He figures Jeff’s number would be on the front, but he said his better be on the back.”