SALT LAKE CITY — Conroy Black has learned that life is often a series of trades. In order to get something, you have to give up something else.
In recent years, Black has elected to exchange his soccer cleats and track spikes. He’s also decided to give up living near warm, sandy beaches in California, Florida and Jamaica for the snow-covered mountain peaks surrounding Salt Lake City, all in the pursuit of a football career.
Blessed with great speed that has translated into a 4.35 clocking in the 40-yard dash, Black has earned a starting job at cornerback in his third and final year with the Ute football team. After making a series of trades to get to this point in his athletic career, the senior is “ready to go out there and show what I can do.”
While spending some of his early years in his parents’ native country of Jamaica, the first sport Black played was soccer. However, as Black approached his middle school years and moved to Florida, he discovered football.
“I started playing football around the sixth grade,” Black recalled. “My whole family is Jamaican, so my first sport was soccer, which is very popular in that country. Then my cousin told me that I should just go try to play football. So, I signed up for the Little League team and just went out there, and from then on I’ve loved football.
“When I first started, I played running back,” Black continued. “I was always so fast they just gave me the ball. My first year was kind of tough, but my second year I had a breakout year and I did really well. I played running back and safety all throughout Little League, and when I got to high school I played corner. Since then, that is the only position I’ve played. I was always the taller, lanky kid that was just fast. Even when I was at running back, I was one of the tallest kids on the team.”
Black’s college options began to open up in 2005. That year he was a member of the Everglades High School (Miramar, Fla.) football team that won the 6A District II championship. Black was named second-team all-state, and accumulated 13 interceptions in three years. He also lettered in track, giving him collegiate opportunities in two sports.
Black elected to attend Fullerton College in California where he was a team captain in football and all-conference in track.
As a sophomore in 2008, Black had 17 solo tackles, returned an interception for a touchdown and had three pass breakups. His team made it to the SoCal Championship semifinals. On the track, Black recorded an impressive time of 10.3 seconds in the 100 meters and clocked in at 20.98 seconds in the 200.
As rewarding as it was being successful in two sports, the overall experience was difficult for Black.
“It was hard, but it wasn’t just because I was doing multiple sports,” he shared. “I was so far away from home and I was in junior college, so that aspect of it was hard. But I did well and it turned out pretty good for me.”
Even though Black joked he’s not as fast as Jamaican world-class sprinter Usain Bolt, he also claimed, “If I wanted to take track seriously, I definitely could.”
Black drew the interest of a few top-tier track programs while at Fullerton College in addition to receiving several football scholarship offers. After sorting out all of his opportunities, Black decided to join the Utes and hasn’t looked back.
“Football was always my best sport and my first passion,” Black explained. “That’s why I went with football. I definitely miss track, I miss running and competing, and I know how good I could be. But, I made a decision and now I have to live with it. No regrets.”
While deciding which sport to pursue was pretty clear-cut, deciding where to go was a different story.
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