Max Jimenez lost out on a football season this school year because of COVID-19, but he’ll get another one and more when he suits up for the University of La Verne.
The Granite Hills High School senior signed a letter of intent to play for the NCAA Division III Leopards next season in a small signing ceremony Monday at the high school.
“It’s a little weird because I really wanted to play this year,” Jimenez said about signing without playing his senior year. “I felt like this was the year that I was going to do the best compared to my other years. Last year I felt like I did really good as a junior, but this year it was my last year, I had to do better than last year. But it still feels good. Still feels like nothing too different.”
During the 2019 season, Jimenez totaled seven touchdowns and had the second-most receiving yards in the Central Section Division VI with 937 yards. He also led the East Sequoia League with 516 yards in league play and was selected to the All-ESL first team.
“He almost had 1,000 yards his junior year,” GHHS head coach Dan Williams said. “That’s not very uncommon, people do (that). But not here. Especially when our offense is what we were. We were a predominantly running team. And it was kind of fun to watch because people knew him. And people prepared for him and that’s just the utmost respect and honor that any player could get.”
Despite only taking up tackle football when he got to high school, Jimenez proved to be a fast learner from the start. He was instrumental to the team on both sides of the ball as a wide receiver and defensive back. He was also the team’s kicker.
“He never came off the field,” Williams said. “He went from offense specifically. Then he went offense to defense. And he was our kicker. So, kind of made a joke in there, we bought a brand new kicking net but he never got to use it because he never came off the field.”
For Jimenez, who will play wide receiver for the Leopards, La Verne was an easy choice because he is from Southern California and he wanted to go to a small school.
“It’s in (Los Angeles) and I grew up there,” Jimenez said. “It’s not a big school, like how they portrayed it. It was small...everybody knows each other. It reminded me kind of like Granite, everybody knows each other. And like Porterville. It’s not like chaotic, or nothing. It’s in a calm town. Something I like about it.”
Jimenez played soccer all his life but said it’s the connections that he built in football that make him like it more than soccer. Those connections will be what he misses the most from Granite.
“I’m going to miss how we were all; like we wouldn’t mess around but when it was time to get serious, we’d get serious,” he said. “But the connection we all had cause the school’s small and we all seen each other at lunch. I was always with them, even out of school. Hanging out with them. Cause I feel like they’re really like brothers. You hang out with them a lot.”
Jimenez is a little worried about this next step but believes he will make new connections as a Leopard.
“At that college level I feel like it will be a lot different than high school for sure,” he said. “Like I’m kind of worried because it’s something that I’m going to get a new taste of. It’s college, new players that you’ve never met. But I feel like I’ll get along with them.”
At La Verne, Jimenez will study business management and plans to start a construction business one day.