Is it fútbol or football, Fresno State Bulldogs’ kicker Jimmy Camacho talks of his favorite sport and his love of fatty Mexican foods.
Camacho, 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, is in his senior season on the Bulldogs’ special teams unit. He’s helped the ‘Dogs toward a perfect 4-0 (5-2 overall) for first place in the West Division of the Mountain West Conference, but the former Chivas Academy soccer player nearly left football altogether.
Camacho, age 21, recently hit a new personal record kicking for 50 yards against host San José State University on Oct. 7. His prior best was against visiting Incarnate Word, a 47-yarder on Sept. 9. In the most-recent game (Oct. 21), Camacho kicked a 43-yarder toward a 27-2 rout over host San Diego State.
Camacho is 13 of 16 on field goal attempts this season. The Bulldogs are eager to do well after a dismal performance finishing at 1-11.
Camacho could easily trade his football jersey for a fútbol (soccer in Spanish). He’s a natural talent on this front too. After he was invited to the Chivas Academy in southern California, he was offered a contract to play with Tijuana’s Xolos in México, the country of both his parents.
“I love soccer. I couldn’t tell you the last time I caught a full NFL game, but I’m sitting there watching the Champions League, Confederations Cup, the Copa América; that’s what I live for,” said Camacho after a recent workout with the ‘Dogs.
“That’s my first love. That’s what I lean towards; I love FIFA. I just love soccer. That’s the first thing that I learned to love when I was a kid.”
Camacho declined the offer from the Xolos for good reason.
“My dad was diagnosed with cancer. I had to come back and enroll at a junior college, and that’s when I started taking football seriously. One thing led to another. I was offered a scholarship to play football here, but now, I got two loves: I love football and I love soccer,” he added.
His father Sergio Alberto Camacho, native to Mexicali, México,, was diagnosed with lymphoma, which kept Camacho from accepting a Mexican soccer contract with the Xolos. He was only 17 years at the time. Jim remained in the U.S. to help his family: His mother, Rosalba Camacho, of from Colima, México, his older brother, Sergio Camacho, Jr. and Jacqueline, the youngest.
Jim played football at Citrus High School helping the program to back-to-back CIF football titles, He also garnered CIF titles in 2011 and 2012 on the soccer team prior to entering the Chivas Academy the following year.
Jim, who admits he frequents local tacquería Don Pepe on Blackstone Ave., is light-complected and sometimes surprises servers.
“It’s kind of funny, I’ll be wearing my football gear (jersey), I’ll go to Vallarta (market), and people don’t think I actually speak Spanish. I’ll go the taquería, Don Pepe right here. I got blue eyes, light skin, so a lot of people say, ‘Oh, you speak Spanish?’
He’s already completed a degree in criminology and is enrolled as a graduate student studying finance. Yet, when not in a workout or on any road games with the ‘Dogs, he’ll slip away to kick a few soccer balls at Fresno Indoor Soccer, the indoor soccer field across the street from Fresno State.
“I’ll go in there in the off-season; you’ll lose your condition, but you never lose your skill. I like to do that on my recreational time,” said Jim.
And now that he’s in his senior season at Fresno State, he’s considering staying in town after graduation.
“That’s something, playing USL (United States League), PDL (Premier Development League) for the Fuego (Fresno Fuego) or the Fresno Football Club, that’s something that I would definitely be interested in,” said Jim.