Rhoads Hires Ayeni as Running Backs Coach
AMES, Iowa- Louis Ayeni, who has had a major impact on Toledo’s running game in his four years at the school, has been named an assistant coach for running backs at Iowa State, head coach Paul Rhoads announced today.
Ayeni spent the last three seasons as Associate Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator at Toledo producing outstanding results. The Rockets qualified for a bowl game in three of the last four seasons and finished among the top five rushing teams in the MAC all four years.
The Woodbury, Minn., native helped place a Toledo running back on an all-MAC team and mentored a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the last four seasons.
“We are very excited to have Lou join our staff,” Rhoads said. “He brings a tremendous amount of energy and passion to this position, both traits I see as essential to aid in the advancement of our football program. He is a dynamic and relentless recruiter which is also vital to our sustained success.”
The Rockets are coming off a 7-5 campaign in 2013 where they averaged 240.6 yards per game on the ground to rank second in the league and 14th nationally. Under Ayeni’s guidance, senior running back David Fluellen flourished, earning first-team All-MAC honors in 2012 and 2013 with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. His 3,336 career rushing yards ranks fourth all-time in UT history.
Fluellen led the MAC in yards per carry (6.7) and rushed for 1,121 yards in 2013 despite missing three games with injuries. In Fluellen’s absence, Ayeni inserted freshman Kareem Hunt as his replacement. Hunt rushed for 886 yards on 6.3 yards per carry and had five 100-yard games in his rookie season to earn Second-Team Freshman All-America honors by Athlon.
In 2012, Fluellen gained 1,498 yards, the second-highest total in the league and No. 12 in the nation, to earn all-MAC honors. The Rockets went 9-4 and earned a trip to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
The Rocket running attack finished fourth in the MAC in 2011, averaging 213.6 yards per game. Adonis Thomas and Morgan Williams combined for 1,772 yards and 23 TDs. Thomas, who rushed for 1,071 yards despite missing three games with a broken arm, led the MAC with a 6.3 yards per rush average, and was named second team All-MAC for the second straight year. The Rockets ended the year with a 9-4 record and their first bowl victory (Military Bowl) in six years.
In 2010, Toledo's rushing attack finished third in the MAC, averaging 167.4 yards per game. Thomas earned second-team All-MAC honors after running for over 100 yards in three of his final four games. He finished the season with 1,098 yards, as the Rockets earned their first bowl appearance (Little Ceasers Pizza Bowl) in five years and compiled an 8-5 mark.
Ayeni also coached Toledo's kickoff return unit in 2010 that was the national co-leader in kickoff return touchdowns with three and led the Mid-American Conference with a 29.1 return average. Sophomore Eric Page led the nation with three kickoff return TDs, was third with a 31.1 return average and was named the national kickoff returner of the year by College Football Performance Awards.
Ayeni came to Toledo from Northwestern, where he served as a graduate assistant for two seasons, working primarily with the offense.
During his playing career at Northwestern (1999-2003), Ayeni played running back before switching to safety prior to his senior season. He served as team captain in 2003. He graduated in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in communications and a minor in sociology.
Despite being limited his senior year by injury, Ayeni earned respect as one of the most feared hitters in the Big Ten Conference. In four games his senior year, he totaled 22 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He added "Player of the Game" and "Big Playmaker of the Game" accolades against Kansas, Purdue and Wisconsin.
As an offensive performer early in his career, Ayeni helped lead the Wildcats to a Big Ten Championship in 2000. As a true freshman in 1999, Ayeni led the team in kickoff return average and yardage, was third on the team in special teams tackles and was the Wildcats' second-leading rusher.
Ayeni played for Tony Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts as a safety in 2004-05 before joining the St. Louis Rams and Mike Martz in 2005-06 as a linebacker.
Ayeni played his prep ball at Woodbury High School where he helped lead the Royals to their only state championship in 1998. He is the school's career leader in yards (3,504) and touchdowns (47). He ran for 2,112 yards and 34 touchdowns his senior season, both school records.
Ayeni also participated in the Bill Walsh Coaching Internship with the Chicago Bears at their 2009 training camp.
Age: 32 (born Feb. 5, 1981)
Hometown: Woodbury, Minn.
Alma Mater: Northwestern, 2003
2011-13: Toledo Associate Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator
2010-11: Toledo Running Backs
2008-10: Northwestern Graduate Assistant