Amphi High School Class of 2022 standout Francisco “Kiko” Trejo has significant genes when it comes to being an athletically gifted running back, but what has really molded him is the way his grandparents raised him psychologically.
Trejo is the son of the late Leo Mills, the highest rated running back to be recruited to Arizona.
He is the grandson of Henry and Luvena Trejo, who showed him and his brother Dominic and sister Amanda what family values and work ethic are all about when they raised them.
Henry has a background of working in the coal mines of Clifton and playing and coaching softball about an hour’s drive away in San Manuel. He recalls the daily routine of dropping Kiko and his siblings off at daycare and elementary school, then taking his wife to work before heading to the mines.
“It was rough when Kiko was very young because we had to work. We’re lucky that they listened to us,” Henry said of Kiko and his grandkids. “They are really good kids. It was actually easier to raise those three grandkids than it was my four kids because we eventually had more time when we retired.
“We’re proud of them. They’re good kids. Respectful.”
Henry looked on as Kiko went full bore with his agility drills recently at Jet Sports Training, always appearing intense and focused. If an athlete’s value is based on a look of determination, Kiko takes second to no one.
He has a smaller frame at 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds compared to his father — Mills was 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds when he was recruited by Dick Tomey in 1998 as a five-star talent out of Humble, Texas. Kiko is equally as fast as Mills, who ran the 40 in 4.3 seconds entering his college career, but is more shifty as a runner with his cutting ability.
Kiko Trejo working out at Jet Sports Training (Photos by Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)
Although Mills unfortunately was not around Kiko during Kiko’s formative years, Kiko still took it hard when Mills passed away last August because of a heart attack at only 40 years old. Henry mentioned that he and Luvena gained custody of the kids because the mom had substance-abuse problems.
“I wouldn’t have been playing football if it wasn’t for my father,” Kiko said, “but my grandpa is the one who carried it on. It’s kind of different growing up without a father, but I got my grandpa as my father figure.
“He really did everything a father could raising me.”
Henry, who turns 75 in August, is also an accomplished athlete from his younger days playing baseball at Clifton and continuing to play in senior softball leagues in the Tucson area. He is recuperating from a back and shoulder injury but intends to continue playing soon in the Sunday Senior Softball League at Freedom Park.
“He motivates me to keep pushing myself because he continues to play,” Kiko said.
Grinding from sun up till sun down, I’m a leader I’ll get my team better in the process💰😈💫 pic.twitter.com/IsURfaZoUc
— Kiko Trejo (@KikoTrejo3) July 1, 2021
Henry is with Kiko this weekend in Naples, Fla., at the Football University (FBU) Top Gun Showcase, a trip sponsored by Bobby Rodriguez, owner of Jet Sports Training, to help Kiko get noticed by more college recruiters.
Kiko’s performance in the Top 200 Camp in Tempe on June 20 earned him an invitation to the FBU Top Gun Showcase, a three-day event that starts Friday in which participants will be evaluated by 247Sports scouting personnel for profiles for college coaches to observe.
Position-specific tests of technical skill and ability will take place. Instructors have a background coaching or playing in the NFL and college.
“I’m trying to improve on my time for like the pulling drills, my 40, everything, for this trip,” Kiko said. “I’m trying to improve a lot. I’m trying to work hard and I’m trying to exceed the most I can. I will try to give it all my best.”
— Kiko Trejo (@KikoTrejo3) June 21, 2021
Kiko also in recent weeks has attended the 7-on-7 camp at Arizona with head coach Jedd Fisch and his staff in attendance. He did the same at NAU a week previously.
“I haven’t seen anybody work as hard as he does,” Henry said. “He’s always at the gym and exercising, lifting weights — he does it all. He is really determined. He’s really improved a lot.
“I’ve been taken him to some camps and people notice it. They ask me about him. They congratulate him. It’s great to see.”
Kiko is also dedicated in the classroom, improving his grades throughout his time at Amphi. He’s equally proud of his 3.30 GPA as he is of his 37-inch vertical-leaping ability.
In addition to being an accomplished sprinter for the Panthers’ track and field team, Trejo has emerged as one of the top Class of 2022 running backs in the state.
In only four games in 2020 because COVID-19 shortened the season, Kiko rushed for 479 yards with six touchdowns. He averages nearly a first down a carry — 9.8 yards — in his 14-game varsity career at Amphi, with 1,085 yards on 111 carries.
“The main thing for him was learning, being patient and being coachable because he has natural ability,” Amphi coach Jorge Mendivil said. “He’s got great speed. We’ve been working on his cutting ability and set up his blocks. Initially, he wanted to run everything to the outside.
“He had success with that at the freshman and JV levels, but when you get to varsity, you’ve got guys who have better angles and they can catch him. He’s setting up his blocks a lot better and running inside like we told him to so he can set that outside burst up.”
Following the Top Gun Showcase, Kiko’s recruiting profile should be enhanced. Presently, he has one scholarship offer from NAIA school Arizona Christian in Surprise.
The attention given him by college coaches is growing by the week.
He believes his work in the gym and on the field with agility drills can pay dividends to perhaps a Division I or II scholarship offer by December when his career at Amphi comes to a close.
“I’m just working hard to ball out and maybe become an All-American,” he said. “Everything’s going pretty smooth right now. I just have to focus, be steady and continue grinding. I am just trying to put in more work and get more polished.”
That work includes going to the gym some days at 4 a.m. with Dominic, a cheerleader at Arizona who also played football at Amphi.
Football is in Kiko’s genes and he has the blue-collar work ethic derived from a coal-mining grandfather.
“He works hard, but what I’m really proud of more is he is really hitting the books and keeping the grades,” Henry said. “All these ex-football players at these camps are telling him, the grades are No. 1. They’re first. If you don’t have the grades, you can’t play. I give him advice about handling situations, such as keeping the conversations with coaches. It’s not wise talking to people he does not know.
“He’s a smart kid. He knows that. With what he has been through since being very young, I’m very proud with how he has developed.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District