Football: Defensive Player of the Year

Nathan Ayers Jr., Dunbar, linebacker, senior

No one gave offenses more trouble in more ways than Ayers did this fall.

The 5-foot-9 middle linebacker excelled at getting to the ball and harassing the carrier.


He had 142 tackles, including 69 for losses, as the No. 8 Poets shared the Baltimore City title and reached the Class 1A state semifinal. He also recovered four fumbles and returned two of his four interceptions for touchdowns.

"Defensively, he's all over the field," Poly coach Roger Wrenn said, "and he's about as gifted at creating turnovers and stealing the ball as the second person in on a tackle as any player I've ever seen in the Baltimore area. I thought he was the heart and soul of their defense and somebody who just rallied kids around him."


In addition to Ayers doing all that defensively, he also ran for 2,304 yards. He scored 27 touchdowns and accounted for 187 points, 49 percent of Dunbar's total.

His speed, agility and athleticism gave him the versatility to shine at both positions while his stamina and durability allowed him to do so in every game.

"That's a tribute to his body and the way that he exercises," Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith said. "He doesn't come off the field. He never gets tired. His workout is something that you don't see. When college coaches come and see him, they say he looks like a sophomore in college."

Ayers, who started all four years and helped the Poets to three state crowns, will play in the Maryland Crab Bowl on Dec. 19 at Towson University. He is considering scholarship offers from UNLV, Toledo, Central Michigan, Morgan State and Towson.