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Jaren Wilkey/BYU
BYU's center Jacob Jimenez prepares to snap the ball during fall camp in Provo.

PROVO — BYU has been a challenge for junior offensive lineman Jacob Jimenez, both on and off the field of play, but he's largely met most of the challenges thrown his way and is on the cusp of receiving a starting assignment this coming season.

Jimenez signed with BYU as part of the 2015 class, which may be the last time he received any type of recognition prior to this year's practice sessions, and for reasons he largely had little to no control over.

First and foremost was starting center Tejan Koroma, who Jimenez and other played behind, but perhaps his biggest setback was an ACL injury sustained during the 2017 spring practice session.

"I blew it out on March 17, when we went down to St. George to practice," Jimenez recalled. "So that's the rough one. That's the one you don't want, but that's the one I had. It wasn't easy, but I've had good help from teammates, trainers and certainly coaches."

There's just a lot of energy, and it's a real fun time.
BYU offensive lineman Jacob Jimenez

One player Jimenez says he would lean on heavily for advice in getting through injuries was former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, who incurred more than his fair share during his collegiate career.

"Players have been great taking me under their wing, and Taysom — he was great helping me through, just like everyone else," Jimenez said. "The approach is just to keep focused and live every day like you have a new breath of life and to go with every snap like it's your last."

Jimenez is currently locked into what can well be considered the team's biggest position battle along the offensive front. His competition there isn't just from freshman James Empey, but also Notre Dame transfer Tristen Hoge, who could very well switch to center from his current position at guard.

But Jimenez said he loves the battle, along with the guys he's battling with.

"I've been part of position battles where it feels like a battle, and you feel it, but this one is different just because of the guy James is and all my teammates are like," Jimenez said. "He's so willing to help me and I'm willing to do the same, because ultimately, I think, we just want the same thing. We want what's best for the team, and if they pick another guy to start, then I'm totally fine with it."

Jimenez also has glowing comments about his third position coach at BYU, coach Ryan Pugh.

"He makes football fun, and that's what I've felt has been missing from just about everywhere," Jimenez said. "We go to film study not dreading it, and just everything involved with practice, film study — everything just has new life, sort of it. There's just a lot of energy, and it's a real fun time."

Jaren Wilkey/BYU
BYU's Jacob Jimenez works on his pass blocking during fall camp in Provo.

Jimenez signed with BYU out of Pflugerville High School in Texas, which is just north of Austin. He came to Provo as a non-LDS athlete, which is a big social challenge for most who are not a part of the overwhelming majority.

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"It's definitely a challenge. I'm not going to lie," Jimenez said. "I've never been in an area where people are this devout. It's a very Christian area and the people are amazingly well-mannered. It's really different when you first get here, but I've learned to love it. It's the nicest, most genuine population I've been around, and that's obviously due to the LDS faith."

Also challenging has been the academic regimen, which sort of caught the Texan off-guard.

"You walk into a classroom and you suddenly feel like the dumbest guy there, which is a weird thing for me," Jimenez said. "But you also get used to that and learn to get through it. It's been a challenge here, every step of the way, but I've loved it so far. I'm very thankful I'm here and that I have the opportunities that I do. Hopefully things work out this year. I think they will."