Jack Hoffman, a 7-year-old pediatric cancer patient, has spent plenty of time around the Nebraska football team. He took part in Tunnel Walk prior to a game last season, but Hoffman stole the show during Saturday's Red-White game.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Hoffman ran onto the field wearing a plastic Nebraska helmet and replica Rex Burkhead jersey as his name was announced to the crowd.
Hoffman took a handoff from Taylor Martinez, ran left before reversing field and running 69 yards for a touchdown as Nebraska players from both sidelines swarmed him in the end zone. His touchdown helped seal the Red team's victory in the Red-White scrimmage and was easily the highlight of Saturday's game.
“Obviously, Jack's a young man who has touched the hearts of a lot of people,” Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said. “Our football team and the student body have gotten behind him, and he's become a big part of the team. We weren't sure if he was going to want to do it. We brought the idea to his dad, and I thought it was a pretty special thing."
The idea to involve Hoffman in the game came about Saturday night between senior fullback C.J. Zimmerer and Assistant Athletic Director for Football Jeff Jamrog. Zimmerer had gotten to know the Hoffman family through the support network called Team Jack and the Uplifting Athletes, and said the players drew up a play for Hoffman on the sidelines before sending him into the game.
“We drew up the play probably 30 seconds before so I'm sure it was all a blur for him,” Zimmerer said. “I was telling some of the other reporters that he did a great job. We wanted to get him around the edge, giving him a nice lane to the end zone. He did a great job running his little legs there. He's fast for a little guy. He did a great job for the pressure of 60,000 fans. I'm sure it was not very easy for a 7-year-old."
Hoffman was diagnosed with cancer in April 2011 and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments. After the game, he was listed as the leading rusher in the box score, with one carry for 69 yards and a touchdown. Hoffman's run has gone viral and was the top play on SportsCenter on Saturday night.
Martinez came back into the game Saturday to handoff to Hoffman, and redirected him when Hoffman initially ran the wrong way.
“He was really nervous when he got there,” Martinez said. “You saw him run the wrong way, so I had to grab him and lead him the right way. It was awesome for him."
- Start Photo Feature ▶
- Showing photos 1 - 7 of 7