Cameron Jurgens doesn't make excuses and doesn't need anyone to make excuses for him. 

But there's an element in the Nebraska sophomore center's story that tends to get overlooked. People tend to forget, or just don't know, that Jurgens practiced full tilt for only about a week and a half before last season's season-opening win against South Alabama. He suffered a foot injury in the fall of 2018 as he made the transition from tight end to center. Then, last summer, he injured his other foot and had to watch most of preseason camp from the sideline.

That presented an enormous challenge for someone making a difficult position switch.



"A lot of it is the speed of the game," the Beatrice native said Thursday during a Zoom session with media. "You have to make a lot of (line) calls, and I feel like a lot of times I was rushed." 

Bottom line, Jurgens, through no fault of his own, too often was on the sidelines in practice last August when he needed to be getting used to making decisions in live action. He said he became more comfortable as the season progressed. He stayed healthy. That was critical. The game slowed down for him. His issues with errant snaps smoothed out, for the most part. 

With a season of making line calls under his belt, Jurgens' overall game should improve significantly.

"I wasn't seeing things as well as I am now," he said.

It's going to be fun for Nebraska fans to watch the development of the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Jurgens. You don't have to be Andy Reid to see his explosive athleticism.

In fact, if you had to name five key players on Nebraska's offense, Jurgens would be near the top of the list. 

Make no mistake, he's locked down his position. Junior Trent Hixson, who started every game at left guard last season, and sophomore Will Farniok will continue to try to push him. But they're working behind a player that has the sort of athleticism and explosion that could lead to national honors down the road. 

"Man, he's done a really good job of getting that command presence," Nebraska offensive line coach Greg Austin said Thursday. "His command presence a year ago is 180 degrees from where it is now." 

He's taking control and making the right calls, Austin said. It's not something to take for granted, especially as Nebraska grinds through preparation for its Oct. 24 season opener at sixth-ranked Ohio State. 

During preseason camp, Austin said, a center often is thrust into challenging situations because the offense doesn't have a specific game plan, nor does the defense.  

"They're kind of working their schemes (on defense) and their adjustments to ours," Austin said. "Some things come up that we haven't really prepared for, if you will. It's been really good to see, from (Jurgens), being able to take some things we've learned in the past, whether it was in fall camp last year or during the season, and bring them forward.  

"There have been a couple of instances when he pulled out a call that, again, we hadn't prepared for that call in months. But, boom, he knew the situation that warranted that call." 

Jurgens making the right calls injects confidence in those around him, especially the guards — in this case, senior Matt Farniok to his right and senior Boe Wilson to his left. Wilson, the full-time starter at right guard last season, has the edge at left guard over junior Broc Bando and sophomore Nouredin Nouili, a transfer from Colorado State. 

As for Jurgens' snaps, Austin mostly seeks consistency. 

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"Mechanically, he's good," the coach said. "But certainly we've got to make sure he's dialed in and focused on that part of the game, and gives the quarterback the ball consistently in the same spot."

Jurgens sounded upbeat and confident Thursday. He acknowledged preparation for the season has been markedly different from last year, obviously, because so much has happened on the fly due to pandemic-related uncertainty.

"Still, we've been putting in work, and I definitely see a lot of improvements in what I've been able to do," he said. "I'm kind of excited to keep seeing if I can improve as we get pads on." 

Nebraska donned full pads Wednesday for the first time since last November. It felt good to hit guys, said Jurgens, who's part of an offensive line that's regarded as perhaps the team's foremost strength. 

Along those lines, Matt Farniok's presence is critical in the program because "he's kind of the voice of the O-line," Jurgens said. "Since he's the main leader guy, he knows what everybody's supposed to be doing. As for his transition from tackle to guard, it's not like he needs to learn anything. He knows what he's doing. We're all excited for him.

"He's such a strong dude who can move people. It's going to be sweet having him inside."

Jurgens helped coach this fall at Lincoln Southwest. It was fun being around the coaches, he said, in part because it provided him a different viewpoint. A leadership viewpoint. That's helping him now as he helps guide young linemen in Nebraska's program. 

"I'm excited to show what I can do and what our O-line can do," Jurgens said. "It's been sweet, just seeing our offense come together."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.