Trayvon Bromell honed his appreciation of track and field by watching endless YouTube videos of the greatest American sprinters. The former Gibbs High standout studied the blistering starts of Tyson Gay, the perfect form of Justin Gatlin and the cocksure attitude of Michael Johnson. "I've always been a fan of the sport and have studied the style of all the successful runners," Bromell said. "I've been doing it my whole life, as a matter of fact." By emulating the best traits of his idols, Bromell has solidified himself as the premier up-and-coming 100-meter runner in the nation, if not the world, with the start of the 2016 Olympics a year from Wednesday. The proof is in the times Bromell has posted, from the high school record 9.99 seconds he clocked at the Great Southwest Classic in 2013 to the 9.84 he ran at the U.S. championships this year. But of all the numbers Bromell has recorded, perhaps the one that sticks out the most is his age. He is 20 years old.In three weeks, the Baylor sophomore will run the 100 for the United States at the world championships in Beijing. Bromell will face a star-studded field that will include two of his childhood heroes, Gatlin and Gay, along with two-time defending Olympic champion and world record-holder Usain Bolt and former world record-holder Asafa Powell.That quartet is accustomed to sharing the lead role. But age is catching up to them, with Gatlin (33), Gay (32), Powell (32) and Bolt (28) entering the twilight of their careers.Bromell has had such a meteoric rise that some of track's greats are considering him a legitimate threat to win major titles and stay on the fast track toward the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.That was evident at the U.S. championships last month when Gay had to surge ahead at the end to win the 100 in 9.87 seconds, .09 ahead of Bromell.In the days leading up to the final, it was Bromell who had created a buzz. In the preliminaries, he clocked a wind-legal 9.84, a time that ranks as one of the 10 fastest ever and matches the world record Donovan Bailey held from 1996-99. Bromell followed that by running the semifinals in a wind-aided 9.76, the second-fastest time in the world this season under any conditions.Because of those performances, Gay was asked after winning if he had felt any pressure going into the final."Of course," Gay said. "(Bromell) is a great talent. He's the future."•••Bromell's breakout comes at a much-needed time for a U.S. men's team that has had several doping scandals involving sprinters. In 2006 Gatlin was given a four-year ban for testing positive for testosterone. Gay recently came back from a one-year suspension after testing positive for a banned substance."I know Trayvon wants to be great, and he has all the intangibles to do it," Baylor sprint coach Michael Ford said. "A lot of people gravitate toward him because he's so young. Because of that, the times he's posted seem to be pure. It kind of takes away from all the negative stuff that has happened in the sport the past few years."Bromell's times suggest he has not hit his stride yet. He was 17 when he first broke 10 seconds in the 100. He has done it 13 times since.Bolt, Gatlin, Gay and Powell never ran a sub-10 second race as teenagers."The thing that really sets Trayvon apart from some of the other young sprinters is his consistency," Ford said. "His times do not fluctuate. Other runners might run a 9.98 and then go up to a 10.1 or 10.2 Trayvon has run under 10 seconds for a long time now."What makes Bromell's performances even more impressive is that he is 5 feet 8, several inches shorter than the other top sprinters. Bromell has been able to loom large by blending speed and good technique to accelerate past his opponents.Bromell also has supreme confidence in his ability. So if you thought he would have any nerves facing such a stacked field at the world championships, think again."I'm never worried going into a race," Bromell said. "The world championships is a big one, but why stress over it. We're all running the same race, the same amount of meters. Anything can happen. I don't really look at anything beyond the race that I need to run. Everything I see is black and white."•••That Bromell is in a position to supplant the top sprinters for the title of world's fastest human was nearly unthinkable five years ago, when he started going through a series of serious injuries. He broke both his knees, fractured a forearm and cracked a hip his first three years at Gibbs. His senior year was his only full high school season in track.Those setbacks only strengthened his faith."The obstacles I've had and the ability to get through them let me know that God is real," Bromell said. "My belief grew stronger, knowing that he was right there and had a plan for me."Bromell came back stronger, focused and injury-free. In 2013 he was named the Gatorade national boys track athlete of the year while at Gibbs. As a freshman at Baylor last year, Bromell won the 100 at the NCAA outdoor championships in a wind-legal 9.97 seconds to set the world junior record (under 20). He was the only sprinter in the field to finish in under 10 seconds and became the first freshman to win the 100 since Florida State's Walter Dix in 2005.Bromell has since gone through more tough times. In May 2014, one his closest friends, Tim Holmes, a former standout at Lakewood High, transferred from Baylor to Florida. Two months later, Bromell's father, Cashmere, died after suffering a heart attack while in the hospital."Any time you lose a parent, it's hard," Bromell said. "I didn't have a real strong relationship with my dad growing up, but we were starting to build something the past few years. These are the things that helped me become stronger and give me perspective."On the track, Bromell stayed among the elite. This year he won the NCAA 200 indoor title and finished second in the 100 at the outdoor championships.•••With Bromell becoming a hot commodity in track and field, he soon will have to weigh becoming a professional or keeping his college eligibility.Signing with a shoe company would allow Bromell to make money on the pro circuit and train for the Olympics. He also could haul in plenty of footwear, which is big for a sneaker aficionado who owned more than four dozen pairs when he was in high school.Regardless of what he decides, Bromell is making assurances that he will get his college degree, a promise he made to his mother, Shri Sanders."To be honest I haven't really thought about it too much yet," Bromell said. "I know I'm probably not like everyone else because I love college. I love gaining knowledge. And I know that a college degree to going to eventually help me get a job once I'm finished with track. It's not going to last forever."Whatever I do, I will make sure my college education is paid for."Instead of looking far down the road, Bromell said his focus is simply on the next race at the world championships and facing the idols he watched growing up."I've always hoped that one day I could be on their level," Bromell said. "That's always been the dream. But to be on their level, I have to beat them. Until I do that, I can't really speak on it."