After playing trumpet in the Midland Valley High School band his freshman year, A.J. Conklin decided he would rather play football.
"I always liked it," he said of the sport. "I played when I was about 7. The next time I played was when I was a sophomore."
Now a senior, Conklin contributes at several positions for Midland Valley. He's a starting wide receiver and cornerback. He is also a backup quarterback and plays on the Mustangs' kick return team.
"He's an extremely hard worker for us. He's a good leader," said football Midland Valley coach Rick Knight.
What Conklin likes most about football is the sense of freedom he feels when he plays.
"I can do whatever I what to do," he said.
He believes his best position is wide receiver, and he'll never forget a touchdown reception he made in a critical situation two years ago against Allendale-Fairfax High School.
"It was a 51-yard pass," he said. "I ran about 20 yards of it."
The Mustangs went on to win that game.
Conklin also plays basketball and runs track. He has lettered in the three sports for two years.
"We give a special jacket to someone who has lettered in three sports two years," said Knight.
Conklin plays point guard and is captain of the basketball team. He said he likes basketball because of it is fast-paced.
"I like the ongoing,'' he said. "It's nonstop."
During track season, he runs the 100-meter dash and competes in the shot put, long jump and high jump.
He's also a member of the school's Future Business Leaders of America club.
Conklin is considering colleges. A few, including Presbyterian and Hampton University, have expressed some interest in him as a football player.
He wants to major in computer science and work in software development.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.