By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Julius Brents is seldom referred to by his first name on the University of Iowa campus, but that is nothing new for the true freshman defensive back from Indianapolis.
For most of his 18 years, Brents has been affectionately known as JuJu.
“My mother gave it to me,” Brents said. “Coaches, teachers, principals (call me JuJu), so I rarely hear my first name. For the most part, everybody calls me JuJu.”
Two games into his college football career, Julius “JuJu” Brents is making an impact. He made it onto the Kinnick Stadium turf in a dime package Sept. 8 against Iowa State, a 13-3 victory for Iowa. That was enough to appreciate the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series.
“That was a good experience,” Brents said. “It’s an honor (to play as a true freshman), but it’s something I have been planning for all my life: to come in and hopefully make an impact right away.
“Coach (Phil) Parker has put trust in me to go out and make an impact, so I have been getting early playing time and I keep doing what he tells me to do.”
Brents attended Warren Central High School, where a year ago he led the Warriors to the Class 6A Indiana state tournament, finishing with a record of 8-4. Warren Central lost to eventual state champion Ben Davis, 36-29, in the sectional championship.
A first-team all-conference player for three straight years, Brents was named first-team all-county as a junior and senior. He was team captain as a senior.
Brents is one of three Hawkeyes from the state of Indiana, joining defensive back D.J. Johnson and wide receiver Tyrone Tracy, Jr.
“Coach (Kelvin) Bell is doing a great job recruiting us Indianapolis guys and getting us here,” Brents said.
Brents, a pre-business major, is working primarily at cornerback and he is listed as second team left cornerback behind sophomore Matt Hankins for Iowa’s Sept. 15 game against Northern Iowa.
“We were very high on Julius when we recruited him,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He is an impressive young man, a good athlete, and a good football player. We’re optimistic; he has handled things well, has practiced well, and is getting his feet wet on the game field.”
Ferentz wasn’t sure if Brents would play cornerback or safety in college, but the 6-foot-3, 190-pound rookie is seeing most of his reps on the perimeter.
“I’m long. I’m like the prototype corner now,” Brents said. “That is one of my advantages, using my length. I’m not the fastest guy, I’m not the biggest, but you will get a lot of effort out of me.”
He is a bit taller than Iowa cornerback All-American Josh Jackson, who hosted Brents on his official visit. Jackson (Packers), Desmond King (Chargers), Micah Hyde (Bills), and Greg Mabin (49ers) are former Iowa defensive backs currently in the NFL.
“You want to get to the highest level; it’s in the back of my mind,” Brents said. “On my official I was with Josh Jackson and he talked to me a lot, so I have a good feel about who he is. He told me a lot about coach Parker and I like what coach Parker has done for him to get him to the league.”
Brents is part of an Iowa defense that after its first two games, is second in the nation in scoring defense (five points per game), fifth in total defense (199.5 yards per game), and seventh in rushing defense (60 yards per game).
“(I want to) finish the school year strong. It’s a different mentality now,” Brents said. “I want to get good grades so my mom will be very proud of that. I want to continue to gain and maintain on the field and gain more knowledge and hopefully continue to play and see where it goes from there.”