His uniform didn’t quite fit. He wasn’t certain exactly what to do with the ball when he got it. But the undisputed star of Nebraska’s spring football game was an undersized running back who scampered for an 69-yard touchdown run.
The play was designed especially for Jack Hoffman, an Atkinson, Neb., 7-year-old who is battling brain cancer. Wearing a smaller version of running back Rex Burkhead’s No. 22, Hoffman came in on a fourth-and-one play and took the snap. He broke the wrong way, was redirected by Taylor Martinez and, with his blockers clearing the way, he was off.
A Memorial Stadium crowd of over 60,000 stood and cheered. “It felt awesome,” Hoffman said (via Omaha.com) of the touchdown. And the ovation was “really awesome.”
Burkhead and Jack became friends last fall and Burkhead, who leads the “Team Jack” support network, got a big a kick out of the TD run.
“Jack is a fighter, a strong kid,” Burkhead, who will enter the NFL draft later this month, 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.”
Jack’s cancer was diagnosed two years ago and he has twice had surgery. Right now, he’s on a break from a 60-week schedule of chemotherapy. Andy Hoffman said he’s “very optimistic” for his son and that a recent MRI showed that the tumor has shrunk in the last year.
“It was a lot of emotions right at once,” Jack’s father said of the TD run (via ESPN), which was the idea of Jeff Jamrod, the football operations director, and fullback C.J. Zimmerer. “Very emotional to see that. Husker fans have been so incredible to Jack and our family and especially to this cause.”
And, yes, it is dusty in here.
H/T Emily Ingram