Torres High running back Tiquan Gilmore dances past defenders

Eric Sondheimer
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In the era of high school students choosing schools specifically for athletic reasons, running back Tiquan Gilmore of Los Angeles Torres has a confession to make.

“I came here to act and dance,” he said. “I didn’t come to play football.”

Yet Gilmore, 18, led the City Section in rushing as a junior, averaging 15.1 yards a carry while gaining 3,266 yards and scoring 33 touchdowns. In one game, he had 409 yards rushing against Sotomayor.

He takes two buses and two trains from his home in South Los Angeles, a 45-minute trip, to reach Torres and attend the school’s Performing Arts Magnet.

He played youth football but was more focused on dancing when he went out for freshman football at Torres and discovered he was pretty good. Now football has eclipsed dancing as his biggest love.

And with 4.45 40-yard speed, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior enters this season as the reigning Northern League player of the year and the most prolific ballcarrier in the City Section.

“I’ve been around for a while,” coach Charles Burnley said. “This guy is the real deal. He’ll find a small hole and he’s gone.”

Gilmore had games of 361 yards rushing against Marshall, 360 against Franklin and 308 against Hollywood last season.

Any time he has the ball, there’s a chance for a breakaway.

“It’s just vision,” Gilmore said. “The energy I have gives me the vibes to want to move faster. It’s like when you start playing tag, you don’t want anyone to touch you. That’s what I picked up and wanted to do in football too.”

The big question surrounding Gilmore is whether he would be rolling up such impressive statistics if he wasn’t at a Division III school.

“My perspective is if you can do something, you can do it anywhere,” he said. “Nobody can take the love I have for the game away from me. I’m going to do whatever I can to get my family to where we need to be. We’ll just have to see when I get to the next level.”

College recruiters figure to be watching Gilmore this season to remove any doubts whether he can perform at a higher level.

Gilmore has been raised by a single parent, his mother, and he understands that it’s up to him to take advantage of opportunities.

“When nothing is given to you, you have to work for everything,” he said. “When you come from a struggle, you want good things to happen to you. You start to work harder and harder.”

He’s still dancing, and appeared in a school production of “The Nutcracker.”

If he could dance after a touchdown without getting a penalty, he’d be happy to oblige. He’s pleased football has joined dancing among his favorite activities.

“Now I’m deeply involved,” he said. “I’m in love with the game.”

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

Twitter: latsondheimer

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