BEATRICE — Cameron Jurgens set the pen down, took a deep breath, and threw his arms around his parents.
His long road to becoming a Nebraska Cornhusker ended Wednesday with the stroke of a pen.
The youngest Nebraska prep football player ever to receive an offer from the Huskers made official what has been known for close to 900 days and nearly three years. The Beatrice star tight end will don the scarlet and cream next season.
“I think where (coach Scott Frost) wants to be, his direction, and how he wants to bring Husker football back, it just gives you the chills,” Jurgens said. “You just want to be with that. You want to be the change.”
Jurgens first received an offer from then-Nebraska coach Mike Riley on June 6, 2015, which was the summer after his freshman year of high school.
Still just 15 years old, Jurgens had impressed Husker coaches at camp. Exactly two months later, and two weeks before he had his driver’s license, Jurgens announced his commitment to the Huskers.
The road was a relatively straight one after that. Jurgens continued to star for Beatrice while staying firm in his commitment to Nebraska. Other schools came and went.
Then Mike Riley was fired after a 4-8 season. As Nebraska took a 56-14 beating from Iowa on Black Friday, Jurgens made an official visit to LSU. He liked the Tigers’ offense and how he might potentially fit. That made the decision tougher, at least for a little while.
“But after meeting Coach Frost and all the coaching staff, I think the direction this staff is headed, and where we want to be, I’m just super-excited to get in on the ground floor of it,” Jurgens said. “After meeting Coach Frost and talking to him a couple times, there was no doubt I was a Husker.”
While a revamped approach to Nebraska’s walk-on program has begun to funnel many of the state’s top players to Lincoln, it’s Jurgens who will be the jewel.
He, along with York defensive tackle Masry Mapieu, are the only two in-state scholarship recruits in this year’s class. And Mapieu is a tremendous talent in his own right.
But Jurgens is the state of Nebraska’s highest-rated recruit in years. And only Jurgens has been committed for nearly three years.
One doesn’t have to look hard to see the similarities Jurgens shares with his new coach.
Like Frost, Jurgens was a dominant high school star not only in football, but also in track and field, where he is a three-time state champion in the discus and the two-time defending gold medalist in the shot put.
Like Frost, Jurgens comes from a strong athletic family. Jurgens’ mother was a national champion thrower at Kearney State College. Frost’s mother was Nebraska’s first female Olympian, competing in the discus at the 1968 Olympics.
And if you’re not looking too close, you could mistake Jurgens for Frost, or vice versa.
It was of little surprise, then, to hear Jurgens say Wednesday that he first heard from Nebraska’s coaching staff about an hour after Central Florida had defeated Memphis in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
Only a few days later, Frost was in the Jurgens family living room along with former Husker linebacker Barrett Ruud.
“There’s a lot of good football players in the state of Nebraska that sometimes get overlooked. Cam’s a special guy to me and it’s no surprise that he wasn’t overlooked. He’s just a phenomenal athlete. He’s done it on the football field, he’s done it on the basketball court and he’s done it in track and field,” Frost said . “He’s an unusual talent, an elite talent. We’re excited to get him. Kids like that need to stay in the state of Nebraska.
“I have a special connection to him right away because of who he is and where he’s from and what he’s accomplished athletically in this state. He’s a huge piece and an asset for us and I’m looking forward to watching him develop.”
Development is on hold for right now as Jurgens continues to recover from a broken fibula and dislocated ankle he suffered Oct. 20 in Beatrice’s final regular-season game. He gets around on crutches and a walking boot for now, but expects to lose both in about four weeks and start the rehab process in earnest.
It’s unknown if he’ll seek two more state track titles in the spring.
What is known is what was known all along. Three years of waiting led to a special day.
“Having everybody come out, my friends and everything, there’s just so much support for me,” Jurgens said. “My family is here … it’s like the entire town is excited for me.
“And I’m excited to be able to be this for the town.”