When he was asked how it felt to break free and score the touchdown Jack said, “It felt awesome.”
7-year-old Jack Hoffman was the star of the Nebraska Spring Game after scoring a 69-yard touchdown. According to the Associated Press, they youngster has “won the hearts of fans and everyone in the football program for his courageous bout with brain cancer.” Jack, who was diagnosed with cancer in April 2011, has had two surgeries and is currently on a two-week break from a 60-week chemotherapy regimen. Last year he was befriended by the Huskers star running back Rex Burkhead, who has become the captain of the support network known as “Team Jack.”
Jeff Jamrog, the Huskers football operations director, and fullback C.J. Zimmer were the masterminds behind the plan to get Jack into the spring game, and they came up with a special play just for him. They contacted Jack’s parents Friday to ask if Jack could participate in Saturday’s scrimmage.
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 went wild as Jack celebrated. Jack’s father, Andy Hoffman said, “It was a lot of emotions right at once. Very emotional to see that. Husker fans have been so incredible to Jack and our family and especially to this cause.” He reports that jack is “doing great” and that a recent MRI at Boston Children’s Hospital showed that over the last year the tumor has “shrunk substantially.” Andy said, “We’re very optimistic for Jack.”
Burkhead told reporters “Jack is a fighter, a strong kid. 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.”
Photo: AP/Lincoln Journal Star, Matt Ryerson