Afolabi Aromire is one of the nation's fastest high school sprinters and has scholarship offers from some of the nation's top college track programs. Even though he suffered hip injuries while running outdoor track each of the past two school years, Aromire was resolute in his desire to play varsity football for the first time this fall.
That decision had people wondering why the C.H. Flowers senior would risk getting hurt playing a sport far more physical than track, when his speed already was coveted.
"People ask me that question all the time," said Aromire, the son of Nigerian immigrants. "It's just a love for the game. I've been playing football since fifth grade."
But he did not play last fall, instead resting his left hip after straining ligaments in the Prince George's County track and field championships. Then, after setting state records, winning Maryland 4A/3A titles in the 300 and 500 meters and earning All-Met honors in indoor track last winter, Aromire felt pain in his right hip, the result of a gap in his growth plate after a spurt that saw him grow from 5 feet 5 as a freshman to 6 feet.
Although the pain prevented him from running and required rest, Aromire dedicated himself in the weight room, knowing that proper training could make him less susceptible to injury.
"I feel much stronger when I'm running," said Aromire, who weighs 172 pounds, seven more than he weighed last spring. "It's easier. I don't have to strain as much to get to my top speed."
Aromire has had plenty of quick starts and stops this fall, starting at cornerback and returning kickoffs for the No. 10 Jaguars (3-0, 2-0 Prince George's 4A). UCLA, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and Louisiana State have offered track scholarships, Aromire said, and C.H. Flowers football coach Mike Mayo expects coaches from those schools will be eager to see videotape of Aromire playing football.
"He's a football player," Mayo said. "It's just that people know him more for track. But he can play football, definitely. He's what they would call, I guess, a raw talent."
Today, the player who goes by the nickname "Fu" because coaches, teachers and classmates often mispronounce his name, hopes his speed can help Flowers beat No. 16 Eleanor Roosevelt for the first time.
"It would be a wonderful achievement," Aromire said. "Our senior class bowling night is Friday after the game. All we've been saying is we want to go to senior bowling night with a smile on our face [because] we beat Roosevelt."
Directions: From the Beltway, take U.S. 50 east toward Annapolis. Take first exit for Route 704 and at the bottom of the ramp turn left toward Glenarden. At traffic light, turn left onto Ardwick-Ardmore road. School is about one mile on the right.