Cameron Jurgens’ rehabilitation from a foot injury over the summer included a lot of time in Nebraska’s training room and weight room.
It involved a weight-loss plan that saw him take off somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 pounds to reduce the amount of pressure he put on his lower body and facilitate improvement at as rapid a rate as possible.
More than anything, though, NU offensive line coach Greg Austin credited Jurgens’ mental and physical toughness for allowing him to come back from persistent injuries that date to last fall, and even Jurgens’ high school career at Beatrice, and win the starting center job in the final two weeks of preseason camp.
“It takes resilience. It takes not playing scared about getting injured again,” said Austin, who battled knee injuries during his playing days at NU. “That’s the biggest fear. When I first came back from my injuries, it was, ‘OK, am I going to get hurt again?’ You kind of have to overcome that fear and go out there and play your balls off and let fate determine what happens next. That’s what he has. He goes out there and competes. If he can go, he goes. When he can’t, he can’t. And he knows his limitations and is communicating to us on a continual basis what his status is.”
Jurgens is right around 280 pounds now, “depending on how big his meal is,” Austin said. He was up around 285 in the spring and then dropped into the 260s over the summer as he rehabbed. How did the 6-foot-3 converted tight end stay strong enough that the staff has confidence that he’ll hold up in the middle of a Big Ten offensive line?
“He’s just so body strong and body explosive that, when you have a skeletal deal like a broken bone or something like that, musclewise he was OK,” Austin said.
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Jurgens’ injury run started in his senior year of high school at Beatrice when he fractured his fibula and dislocated his ankle on his left side. Then last October, he fractured his right foot shortly after he converted from tight end to offensive line.
Austin on Wednesday noted that Jurgens was limited as he dealt with injury issues through the spring — Jurgens was able to play some in the Red-White Spring Game in April — and then had to spend a good chunk of the summer rehabilitating after further injury to the foot.
Head coach Scott Frost said on Monday that Jurgens might be on a “pitch count” early in the season, but Austin and the Huskers clearly are excited to see the redshirt freshman on the field.
“He’s explosive, powerful. He has a calmness about him,” Austin said. “There’s a grit about him. There’s a quiet grit about Cam that he brings to that position that allows the guys — you talk about command presence, (the center) has to be the guy that orchestrates. He’s the maestro. He has to orchestrate the whole deal up front.
“He’s smart, explosive. He’s the prototypical center.”