When an injury forced Eden Prairie senior Felipe Izumi to switch sides of the ball, he took it in stride. He went from a starter on defense to a starter on offense. Recently he decided where he will be playing…
When an injury forced Eden Prairie senior Felipe Izumi to switch sides of the ball, he took it in stride. He went from a starter on defense to a starter on offense. Recently he decided where he will be playing his college ball.
The Eagles had their typical, strong season – losing just two games and finishing as the runners up in 6A.
“We focus on fundamentals,” Izumi said. “If everyone is doing their job, that is when we are playing our best. We trust the coaching staff, and when we do our jobs, we are playing our best.”
Izumi’s role changed dramatically during the season.
“As a junior, I was a defensive lineman,” the EP senior said. “At the beginning of this season I was playing defensive end, and I would play fullback sometimes in short yardage situations. By the second game, the coaches switched me to defensive tackle, and that is where I played for about half the year. Our starting fullback got injured in the middle of the season. I was the second-string fullback, so I finished the year there.”
Although he had not played fullback a ton during games – Izumi felt it was a perfect fit.
“I felt like fullback was the position that was meant for me. Carrying the ball is fun but I love blocking, and it is where I fit in well.”
It did not take long for Izumi to find a grove at his new position.
“The transition to fullback was smooth. As a defensive lineman, you always have to stay low and be aggressive, and that carried over. That was a big part of what made me successful at fullback. I feel like I was able to show off my aggressiveness and strength at fullback.”
With half his senior season spent on the defensive side of the ball, Izumi’s strengths sound a lot like a fullback’s strengths.
“My strengths on defense are my explosiveness, my low center of gravity and my quickness. In the weight room, I put a lot of emphasis on my lower body. We play a gap control defense, and If I can stay in my gap, things are going to go well.”
Izumi credits some of his success in football to other sports he has played.
“Both of my parents are from Brazil,” the 6’1″ 225-pound Eagle said. “I have been a soccer player until my freshman year. Soccer was the foundation of it all. I feel like it helped me build my lower body strength, my sense of competition and being a smarter player.”
This winter Izumi has focused on improving his strength and size for college football. This spring he will be playing lacrosse. He also knows he needs to develop his skills from the fullback position.
“When I am blocking, I tend to keep my head down. I need to work on my blocking technique.”
Izumi had schools from nearly all levels of college football looking at him.
“Originally I wanted to go to college in California. Coach (Mike) Grant was able to get me a visit to San Jose State. Later I went out there for a camp. At the same time, I started being approached by St. Thomas, Augsburg, Gustavus and Bemidji State. Over the summer I only took one visit to St. Thomas, but I also did a game day visit. Then Drake gave me an offer, so I took a visit down there.”
Schools liked that Izumi’s old school style.
“They like how aggressive I play,” Izumi – who is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese – said. “That is something that kept popping up with coaches. They liked that I was an old school type of fullback.”
Ultimately, his decision came down to St. Thomas, Gustavus, and Drake.
“I chose St. Thomas because their education is outstanding. I want to study international business, and they are known for that.”
Izumi’s hope to get involved in international business comes from a natural curiosity.
“I am involved with my church and like to learn about other cultures,” Izumi continued. “I want to study international business not only because I can speak multiple languages but also because different cultures interest me.”
Izumi knows he could be playing one of many positions for St. Thomas.
“Most of the schools were recruiting me as a fullback or an H-back,” Izumi explained. “I think St. Thomas will have me mainly at fullback, but I could see them moving me to tight end. A few coaches saw me as a defensive lineman and St. Thomas has talked about switching me to defense too.”
Based on his history, switching from defense to offense and then maybe back to defense will be no problem for Izumi.