7-year-old stars in Nebraska’s spring game

LINCOLN, Neb. — Jack Hoffman just might go down as the biggest star of the Nebraska spring game.

And he’s only 7 years old.

Hoffman, of Atkinson, Neb., has won the hearts of fans and everyone in the football program for his courageous bout with brain cancer. Star running back Rex Burkhead befriended Jack last year and is the captain of the support network known as “Team Jack.”

Wearing a miniature Burkhead uniform complete with a No. 22 jersey, Jack ran onto the field late in Saturday’s scrimmage.

On a fourth-and-1 play, he took a handoff from Taylor Martinez. Jack started running left, but Martinez redirected him. The little guy turned on a dime and followed a wall of blockers down the field.

Players from the Red and White squads left their sidelines and followed him into the end zone to mob him and lift him on their shoulders after his 69-yard touchdown.

The crowd of 60,174 at Memorial Stadium cheered as Jack celebrated — a moment that left his father, Andy, misty-eyed on the sideline.

Asked what he was thinking when he ran onto the field, Jack said, “Scoring a touchdown.”

And when he broke free and scored? “It felt awesome.” And the crowd reaction? “Really awesome.”

Football operations director Jeff Jamrog and fullback C.J. Zimmerer came up with the idea to get Jack involved in the spring game. Jamrog called the Hoffmans on Friday to tell them the Huskers had a special play planned for Jack.

Receivers coach Rich Fisher motioned Jack over on the sideline to show him the play he drew up. Andy said that’s when it hit him that his son really would get his day in the sun at Memorial Stadium.

“It was a lot of emotions right at once,” Andy said. “Very emotional to see that. Husker fans have been so incredible to Jack and our family and especially to this cause.”

Jack was diagnosed with cancer in April 2011 and has had two surgeries. He’s now on a two-week break from a 60-week chemotherapy regimen.

Andy said Jack is “doing great” and that an MRI at Children’s Hospital in Boston showed that the tumor has shrunk substantially in the past year.

“We’re very optimistic for Jack,” Andy said.

Burkhead, who is preparing for the NFL draft, said he got as much joy out of Jack’s touchdown as he did for any of the ones he scored for the Huskers.

“Jack is a fighter, a strong kid,” Burkhead said. “To see him run around and enjoy the Husker experience, it’s a dream come true, especially for kids in the state of Nebraska. For Jack to get down here and do it, I know it made his day.”

More in Sports

Members of the offensive line look over a play during practice Wednesday afternoon at Monroe High in Monroe on November 15, 2017. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After historic win, Monroe football sets sights on Sumner

The Bearcats advanced to the quarterfinals after their first-ever state-playoff win last week.

Return of goalie Hart boosts Silvertips’ confidence

Everett has gone 3-1-0-1 since Hart returned to the lineup after an illness earlier this season.

Doubt grows over Chancellor’s availability for Monday

The Seahawks strong safety sufferered a neck stinger in a win over the Cardinals last week.

Looking for 2nd receiving option, Huskies turn to Fuller

After a rash of injuries, the sophomore looks to step up as Washington’s complement to Dante Pettis.

Skate America returning to Xfinity Arena next year

Everett set the Skate America attendance record when it hosted the event in 2008

Friday/Saturday’s state football preview capsules

Archbishop Murphy (2A) and Monroe (4A) will play in the state quarterfinals this weekend.

Washington falls to Providence 77-70 in 2K Classic

Noah Dickerson scores 19 and freshman Jaylen Nowell adds 14 the Huskies in the loss.

POLL RESULTS: Sherman’s loss a significant one for Seahawks

Responders believe Seattle will suffer consequences from All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman’s injury.

BLOG: Some off-day musings as Silvertips prep for three-in-three

The Silvertips are heading into a busy stretch of games with in… Continue reading

Most Read