Feature photo courtesy of Damascus Athletic Department

Latecomer TD Ayo-Durojaiye looks to make most of opportunities

Confidence has never been a problem for TD Ayo-Durojaiye. When he was an eighth grader, he decided to send Damascus football head coach Eric Wallach his Hudl tape. As if that isn’t impressive enough, Ayo-Durojaiye had just started playing football a few years earlier in sixth grade.

“You gotta put yourself out there,” Ayo-Durojaiye said. “It’s about making bold moves that other people would not make and if I didn’t put myself out there, I wouldn’t be pushed to do as well as I did. I don’t regret it one bit.”

The class of 2019 running back plays for Damascus High School, one of the elite Montgomery County programs in Maryland. The Hornets have not lost a game since the state championship in 2015 and are hoping to win their third consecutive state title.

The Damascus Hornets (5-0) have outscored opponents 231-30 this season.

“We like knowing that we have a target on our back going into every game and it pushes us,” Ayo-Durojaiye said. “It helps that our coaches do not allow us to get complacent.”

Ayo-Durojaiye is off to a hot start this season, with 394 rushing yards on 34 carries and seven touchdowns through four games, but knows that while he has God-given abilities, it is a team game.

“They are the best line in the state, Jordan Funk, Sean Rogers, Max Hoffman, Michael Jurgens and Elijah Baisden and our tight end Matthew Betterelli,” Ayo-Durojaiye said.

As an upperclassmen, Ayo-Durojaiye has a presence in the locker room.

“He isn’t afraid to be a vocal leader, even though he is a junior,” teammate Jordan Funk said.

Ayo-Durojaiye has received interest from several college programs, including Maryland, Old Dominion, Cincinnati, Louisville, Wisconsin, Bucknell and Cornell.

Despite receiving letters, texts and emails from coaches after games, Ayo-Durojaiye is remaining patient in the recruiting process in hopes that more schools open their doors to him.

Ayo-Durojaiye has attended camps hosted by Penn State, Maryland and a Crab Bowl camp to help his recruitment.

Staying close to home would be nice, but finding the best opportunity is the priority for Ayo-Durojaiye.

Ayo-Durojaiye is not the first running back from Damascus to wear number 34 and receive interest from the Terps. Maryland running back Jake Funk has offered advice to Ayo-Durojaiye during the recruiting process. The two were teammates during Ayo-Durojaiye’s freshman year.

“[Funk] is a good person to model after and he is one of the best backs ever in Maryland,” Ayo-Durojaiye said. “He just lets me know all the little things like pass blocking, while things like running the ball come easier to me.”

Ayo-Durojaiye’s speed is his standout quality, even though he is not afraid to run someone over..

“His best skill, I would say, is his burst running through the holes and the breakaway speed he has on the secondary,” Funk said. “His overall game has improved so much from each year offensively and defensively.”

While confident, Ayo-Durojaiye knows that the next thing he has to improve is his quickness and ability to hit the hole.

Ayo-Durojaiye’s parents were originally hesitant to let their sons play football due to concerns over injuries. It was not until his older brother Ibukun wanted to play football his junior year that the opportunity opened for TD to play. Ibukun graduated in 2013 but still serves as a mentor to TD.

“[Ibukun] is my biggest inspiration,” Ayo-Durojaiye said. “He got our parents to agree to let us all play football.”

Ayo-Durojaiye believes that he benefited from starting to play football when he was bigger and stronger opposed to starting when he was young.

“I would not ask for a more perfect time to start,” Ayo-Durojaiye said.

The recruiting process has not “hit” Ayo-Durojaiye’s parents yet, since it has mainly consisted of letters so far. Ibukun has been helpful in the process by explaining the process to them.

“They are excited because their son is succeeding in life and he is getting ready to go to college for free,” Ayo-Durojaiye said.

Athletic achievement isn’t foreign to Ayo-Durojaiye’s family. His parents are from Nigeria and had successful careers of their own. Ayo-Durojaiye’s father played semi-professional soccer and his mother played field hockey.

Growing up, Ayo-Durojaiye played a variety of sports before focusing on football and track in high school. Ayo-Durojaiye is hoping to run track at the collegiate level, whether that be by scholarship or as a walk-on.

Once in college, Ayo-Durojaiye plans on incorporating sports into his academics, hoping to study sports journalism or become a physical trainer.

“I just want to be around sports,” Ayo-Durojaiye said. “I love talking and I am taking TV production here at Damascus. I like to have fun and that is something I think I can have fun with.”

Since Ayo-Durojaiye arrived at Damascus, he has had a target on his back from playing for an elite team and campaigning for a starting position since middle school. He is using all of the attention to create the best opportunity for himself in the future and to also win another state championship.