Bellevue West’s Jay Ducker made headlines all fall as he ran through Nebraska state rushing records and helped lead the Thunderbirds to a 13-0 state championship.

Now, the running back is adjusting to life back in Bellevue for now as he was only able to enjoy a taste of spring football at Northern Illinois.

“We had been on a tight schedule since I got there,” Ducker said about arriving at Northern Illinois in January. “We lifted four times a week, have position meetings once a week and morning conditioning two times a week. I stayed there until spring break.”

Ducker committed to Northern Illinois and then went on to win the Gatorade Player of the Year for football in Nebraska. Ducker finished with 215 carries for 2,100 yards and 39 touchdowns. He averaged almost 10 yards per carry and 165 yards per game.

Ducker finished his career at West with 691 carries for 5,735 yards and 96 rushing touchdowns. He holds the Class A state record for total touchdowns in a career with 110.

Ducker was enjoying his first taste of college football as an early enrollee for the Huskies, giving him more time to practice and work out with the team in anticipation for his upcoming fall freshman season.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, all athletic activities ceased and Ducker returned to Bellevue, where he’s been since.

He is still in constant contact with the team, but it is all virtual now.

“We have three meetings on Zoom,” Ducker said. “Then, usually have a quiz at the end of the week about the information we covered.

“They send us home workouts, but I also go to Achieve. It is basically a private workout because of the social distancing so you’re there practically by yourself.”

Even though his time at Northern Illinois was short, Ducker said the team and his teammates made an impression on him from day one.

“I loved it,” Ducker said about the culture at Northern Illinois. “They are all on the same page and their work ethic is second to none.”

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.