FREMONT, Neb. -- After finding a way to get Jack Hoffman on the football field six years ago, Midland University football coach Jeff Jamrog wants to ensure that Hoffman has a place to play the sport he loves in the future. Midland offered Hoffman a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to continue his football career during a campus visit Thursday afternoon.
Andy Hoffman told 10/11 NOW the family is "overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of Coach Jamrog and Midland University." Hoffman added, "My wife Bri and I believe getting an education is important. But like everyone else with young kids we have to figure out how to pay for life--including college."
Jack Hoffman, an eighth-grader from Atkinson, Nebraska, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011. A devout University of Nebraska football fan, Hoffman would develop a friendship with former Cornhusker and current New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead. Hoffman took part in many activities with the Nebraska football team and in 2013, he and his family were invited to attend the Huskers annual Spring Game. That’s when Jamrog, Assistant Athletic Director of Football Operations for UNL at the time, presented an idea to have Jack be more than just a spectator.
“We were in a staff meeting the night before and talking about some fun things we could do during the spring game,” Jamrog said. “That’s when I said ‘what about giving Jack a carry?’ Coach (Bo) Pelini, Rex and Jack’s parents (Andy and Bri) were all on board with it. He showed a lot of guts as a 7-year-old to be willing to step on that field.”
In the fourth quarter, Hoffman took a handoff and with a team escort, went 69 yards for a touchdown, setting off a wild celebration among players, coaches, and the 60,000 people in attendance. The play gained national attention and was named the Best Moment of the Year at the 2013 ESPY Awards. “It was a great moment, but what it’s led to has been awesome,” Jamrog said. “Through the (Team Jack) Foundation, you’ve had over $8 million raised in the fight against cancer. It’s a heck of a story.”
Hoffman has endured his share of battles and setbacks over the last several years, but one thing that has never waned is his love for football. He played the first competitive, contact football game of his life this past fall as a center on his West Holt Huskies Junior High School squad. “It was a little nerve-wracking at first,” Hoffman said of his first game. “But once you snap the ball a few times, you get used to it.”
His story is a lesson in perseverance. It’s why Jamrog believes he embodies everything it means to be a Warrior. “He brings everything you look for in a recruit - his dedication, toughness, character, and he comes from a great family,” Jamrog said. “Those are traits that are tough to come by.”
Andy Hoffman said, "Coach Jamrog is a class act and he's been an important part of the Team Jack Foundation and what we've been doing since day one. He's just a class guy."
Donning a Warriors #75 jersey, Hoffman described the emotions of receiving an offer from Midland. “It means everything,” he said. “How many kids get an offer from a college like this, especially from Midland.”