Each month, I will showcase a current Denver Broncos player and inform you of their lives and accomplishments before coming to Denver. In doing so, I hope to shine a light on each players own unique journey on the road to Mile High. This months featured player is linebacker/defensive end Robert Ayers.
Robert Earnest Ayers Jr. was born on September 6, 1985 in Clio, South Carolina. He played his high school football at Marlboro County High School, where he was an All-State linebacker and played in the 2003 Shrine Bowl game. As a senior, Ayers recorded 112 tackles and five interceptions. The previous year, he made 94 tackles, eight sacks, and three interceptions. He was also a standout on the school’s track team, where he ran the 100-meter dash and 4 x 100 meter relay as a sprinter.
After high school, Ayers attended the University of Tennessee and was a red shirt outside linebacker his freshman year. As a sophomore in 2005, he was moved to second string defensive end, where he recorded five tackles and a sack. In 2006, Ayers totaled 25 tackles with a sack and the next year he led the Volunteers with four sacks, along with 33 tackles. Ayers was finally named a starter his senior year in 2008, where he recorded 49 tackles from the right defensive end spot. He also earned a team leading three sacks and a league leading 15.5 tackles for losses. He was awarded First Team All-SEC honors and was co-recipient of the Andy Spiva Award, which is given to the team‘s most improved defensive player.
Ayers was drafted 18th overall by the Denver Broncos as the second of the teams two first round picks in the 2009 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, he played in all 15 games and recorded 19 tackles. He also recovered a fumble in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown, the longest fumble recovery for a touchdown by a rookie in Broncos history. In the first game of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, Ayers recorded his first career sack as well as five tackles. In total from 2010, Ayers played in 11 games, earning 32 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.
Going into his third NFL season, Robert Ayers will most likely be moved to defensive end from the linebacker spot under new head coach John Fox‘s new 4-3 defense, which is a position he has experience playing at. Ayers will have to build on the accomplishments he has earned in his early NFL career and will need to play at his best to help improve a struggling Denver Broncos defense in 2011.
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