Football Lakewood

Player Profile: Lakewood Football Senior Safety Julius Jimenez

Julius Jimenez never thought he’d be a defensive back. He was perfectly content being one of the fastest defensive lineman on his flag football and Pop Warner teams. But a growth spurt in eighth grade changed everything.

“I always had knee pains and I started to get a little clumsy because I had to wear bigger shoes,” Jimenez recalled. “I had like Goofy shoes. It didn’t look right in the beginning.”

It also didn’t feel right when he got back to the football field and started getting pushed around by the other lineman. His coaches told him to move to either linebacker or defensive back, and Jiminez chose defensive back.

“I loved the Legion of Boom and Kam Chancellor with the Seattle Seahawks,” Jimenez said. “I used to beat my dad playing with the Seahawks in Madden too so I wanted to be like Kam.”

His desire to play far exceeded his ability to move, and Jimenez spent the next three years learning how to thrive in the defensive secondary. He started eating differently, lifting more weights and training with Daylon Cason.

“Honestly, I was still learning to be a DB when I was a junior,” Jimenez said. “It’s probably one of the hardest positions to learn. You have to read the lineman and the receivers, and just backpedaling and weaving… because I’m not like other DBs. I’m a little bigger.”

The 5’11” 205-pound Jimenez worked his way back onto the field and started all three spring season games at strong safety for the Lancers.

“All of his teammates love him and look up to him,” Lakewood coach Justin Utupo said of Jimenez. “And he’s becoming a leader by doing the little things like helping the young guys and helping to clean up the field.”

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We caught up with Jimenez this week to talk about a little bit of everything…

Question: What’s your favorite subject to study in school?
Answer: History. I guess they don’t really teach it in school but I’m in love with dinosaurs. I think it’s crazy that such a big reptile was once on this planet. Jurassic Park was one of my favorite movies.

Q: Which dinosaurs are your favorites?
A: My favorites are the Brontosaurus and the Raptor. I just love how big the Brontosaurus was. If we looked at it now we’d feel like ants. And raptors strategize as a group and a team. They’re quick, fast and strong. They used their body how it was supposed to be built.

Q: Oh, just like you did?
A: A little bit, they did it a little better.

Q: Do you have any favorite movies?
A: Spider-Man. I’m a big fan of the Marvel Universe. I can’t wait of the new Spider-Man. That was a big part of my childhood. I used to go to the grocery store in my Spider-Man costume. My mom didn’t like it because I think she was a little embarrassed, but for me that was just my clothes. I thought I was Spider-Man when I was younger.

Q: So you like Toby Maguire, Andrew Garfield or Tom Holland more as Spider-Man?
A: I think Toby Maguire killed the role. He was amazing. Tom Holland fits Peter Parker. He’s better than Andrew Garfield, but not as good as Toby Maguire. He just had something to him. When I think of Spider-Man I think of Toby.

Q: Do you read a lot of books?
A: Not really, but I love ‘I Survived’ even though it’s a little book I’ve pretty much read all of them with my little sister, Patty. It’s like a series about surviving a volcano or the tsunami in Japan.

Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: I’ll eat anything. I’d have to go with ribs, but if you put pretty much anything in my face and I’ll eat it.

Q: Do you have a favorite beverage?
A: My coaches are going to hate me for saying this, but Coca-Cola. Having it cold and hearing the click of the can open, nothing beats that.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to before a game?
A: For some reason when I listen to rap I don’t get pumped up, it just gets my head scrambled. It’s going to sound weird but I listen to like Selena Gomez before a game. Some of her songs get me in that game mode. It makes me focus more. It’s probably because I used to listen to it with my mom. She didn’t really like cuss words in songs so she just played what was on the radio.

Q: What do your parents get mad at for the most?
A: Waking up late. They don’t like that I’ve been sleeping in lately. I tried to tell them that’s how (to have a growth spurt) but they just tell me to go to sleep earlier. But that’s tough. You never know what you’re going to miss at night.

Q: So, you transferred from Poly to Lakewood right before the pandemic. Did that make it more difficult to be at a new school without being able to go to school?
A: I kind of enjoyed it, actually. It was fun and different and actually a little bit easier for me to be on Zoom. I didn’t really mind. I liked having my own time to do my work.

Q: It must have felt great to get back on the football field.
A: It was probably one of the greatest feeling ever because it felt normal. The bonding and celebrating all of the good plays, it was great.

Q: Do you have any other hobbies?
A: No, it’s just football, school and work. I work at Sky Zone Trampoline Park. I’m a court monitor and I just watch kids jump and tell them what not to do. If anyone gets injured I’ll be there to give them some ice.

Q: What is your best life advice?
A: To be good in life is to be patient but also to be eager. Like with the pandemic, none of us knew what was going to happen. We had to be patient and wait. But you also have to be eager with what you want to do. It’s like being a safety. You have to watch the field, dissect what the receivers are doing, see where the quarterback is looking at… you have to be patient but then eager to get to the ball.

High School Football Preview: Lakewood at Peninsula

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.