Magna • Manny Ramirez will tell you that compared with his days in junior high, his sophomore and junior years at Cyprus High School have provided a measure of stability to his life.

Ramirez, a 6-foot-3, 320-pound senior nose guard, is trying for something new in his family: A college education.

And it’s football, a sport he never even played until last year, that just might create the opening he needs to get there.

“He was one of the kids I got to know early on, when I first got here three years ago,” Cyprus coach Jed Smith said. “I had him in my sophomore English class, and I find out really quick that he was in a really tough situation. Even though he may not say it, he was basically homeless. We started talking about how he could have a future if he started taking care of business now.

“He had to change some things. He had to learn to control his temper. He had some anger and fighting issues, and had to deal with that. School definitely wasn’t a priority. When you talk about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — where his next meal came from, where he was sleeping — none of that was there.”


School • Cyprus

Year • Senior

Position • Defensive lineman

Height • 6 foot 3

Weight • 320 pounds

2017 statistics • 5 solo tackles, 3 tackle assists

Keeping in mind that the last two years or so have been the stable part of his life, Ramirez during this time frame alternately has lived with his mother in the Magna area, his father in South Salt Lake and even a great deal of time at a sister’s house in Spanish Fork.

When the daily drive from Spanish Fork to Cyprus High was too much, Ramirez often would stay at a friend’s house. That friend once was part of the Pirates’ football team but now no longer is.

Part of the normal routine often included moving into a new place then leaving after a month.

“It was not the best,” Ramirez said. “I lived everywhere, practically.”

Smith couldn’t stand to see it continue that way any longer around eight months ago.

With the 2017 football season underway and Cyprus (2-1) already boasting twice as many wins as it did all of last year, Ramirez is now living at the Smith family house.

“After I got to know him, I got to know how good of a kid he is,” Smith said. “He has one of the biggest hearts in the world and is extremely generous. I could see that the only thing holding him back was that he needed the stability.

“I knew I could trust him. At that point, my wife and I said, ‘Hey Manny, we’ve got an extra room. If you can toe the line with schooling, with behavior and who you’re hanging out with, we’ll give you a spot where you can sleep and you can eat.’”

Ramirez’s athletic endeavors before he tried football were limited to boxing, something that his father did.

But the frequent moves between apartments and cities eventually disrupted whatever training regimen he had been able to establish, and Ramirez quit boxing.

He admits that wasn’t the only thing he considered leaving behind. Before football became a regular part of his life, and it only did after Ramirez raised his grades enough at the end of his sophomore year to become eligible, he said he thought about quitting school altogether.

But something kept Ramirez, whom Smith thinks will receive offers to play football from several junior colleges, going to Cyprus High when others might have dropped out.

“I’m the only boy,” Ramirez said. “One of my sisters graduated [from high school], the others dropped out. I want to be the one kid that went further than graduation.

“I want to be something bigger than I am.”



Hunter at West Jordan


Monticello at Rich, 4 p.m.

Clearfield at Davis

Brighton at Granger

Bountiful at Syracuse

Hurricane at Desert Hills

Layton Christian at Parowan

Logan at Woods Cross

Snow Canyon at Dixie

Ridgeline at Copper Hills

Beaver at South Summit

South Sevier at North Summit

West at Timpanogos

Enterprise at Gunnison Valley

Juab at Ben Lomond

Cottonwood at Hillcrest

Skyline at Wasatch

Skyridge at Viewmont

Chugiak (Alaksa) at Green Canyon

Emery at Manti

Roy at Bonneville

Kearns at Olympus

Pocatello (Idaho) at Box Elder

Highland at Lone Peak

Ogden at Carbon

Fremont at Layton

Cedar City at Canyon View

Duchesne at Richfield

Stansbury at Mountain Crest

Bear River at Morgan

Tohatchi (N.M.) at Whitehorse

Spanish Fork at Uintah

Park City at Payson

Corner Canyon at Orem

Grand County at Millard

Summit Academy at Wendell (Idaho)

Madison (Idaho) at Sky View

Grantsville at Tooele

North Sanpete at Judge Memorial

Union at Mountain View

Taylorsville at Jordan

Cyprus at Pine View

Springville at Lehi

Herriman at American Fork

North Sevier at American Leadership

Salem Hills at Maple Mountain

Wayne at Altamont

San Juan at Delta

Weber at Northridge

Cottonwood at Hillcrest

Provo at Timpview

Riverton at Pleasant Grove

East at Westlake

Murray at Juan Diego


Alta vs. Liberty (Nev.) in Las Vegas, 4:30 p.m.

Kahuku (Hawaii) vs. Bingham in Las Vegas, 9 p.m.

All games at 7 p.m. unless indicated