Amara Darboh loved football growing up. He dreamed of one day playing it professionally.
Football is Africa's favorite sport. We Americans know it as soccer.
"That's pretty much all I did," said Darboh, who moved to the United States from Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, at the age of seven.
With his move, Darboh embraced the top sport of his new country - football, American football. He began playing it competitively in sixth grade and no longer participates in soccer.
"I played defensive end," he said of his grade school experience. "They wouldn't let me carry the ball because they had weight limits and I was too big."
Darboh, a junior at West Des Moines Dowling, is turning heads with the ball in his hands these days. The Class of 2012 wide receiver reports scholarship offers from Iowa and Iowa State. Notre Dame, Nebraska and Northwestern are showing interest after he camped at those schools this summer.
"It's very humbling," the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder said. "It was pretty exciting to get those two offers. I was surprised I got them, honestly."
The in-state schools offered Darboh on the same day. Iowa was first to come forward by a matter of hours, he said.
"I talked to (wide receivers) Coach Erik (Campbell) after I camped there," Darboh said of Iowa. "He said he liked how I was aggressive with the ball. We played a game of razzle-dazzle and I did well."
On Iowa State: "After camp there, they said they really liked my potential. They said they were very interested in recruiting me."
Darboh doesn't claim a favorite school and said he's not spending a lot of time on the recruiting process right now. With Dowling ranked No. 1 in the State for Class 4A, he has enough on his plate.
"I'll take a closer look at it after the season," he said. "We have a chance to have a big season and that really is my focus. There will be time for recruiting later on."
Dowling opened the season Friday with a dominating, 34-7 victory against chief rival and fourth-ranked West Des Moines Valley.
"That was exciting," Darboh said. "I thought it was going to be a lot closer than it was because we graduated a lot of starters. Our defense stepped up big time and our offense did well, too. We were very happy with the outcome."
Ahead 17-0, Dowling quarterback Connor Bravard showed faith in his best receiver in the final seconds of the first half. He hurled a pass skyward into the end zone where his target leaped above three Valley defenders and hauled it in for a score as time expired.
"We were frustrated before that when we got into the red zone and didn't capitalize," Darboh said. "On the drive, we went vertical trying to score. Connor was rushed outside the pocket and threw it up. I just caught it."
Darboh is proving to be a strong overall athlete. He plays basketball and participates in track at Dowling.
At a district track meet last spring, Darboh said he hit 22-feet, 10-inches in the long jump. He also reported a 4.42-second, 40-yard dash at Iowa State's camp this summer.
Long ago are Darboh's days running on the soccer fields of Freetown.
"At first, it was a very hard adjustment," he said of coming to America. "By the time I got into fourth or fifth grade, I really started getting used to the lifestyle. I've really made some great friends and come to love the sports here."