LINCOLN — During a two-day, mid-June visit to campus with his mom, newest Nebraska offensive line commit Mirko Jurkovic Jr. spent 10 hours with Husker offensive line coaches Barney Cotton and John Garrison.
“We toured everything, and I got a gut feeling for everything Nebraska,” the 6-foot-5, 280-pound three-star prospect said Monday after he’d selected the Huskers over offers from Ohio State and Florida. “They did a workout and you could see it: A group of brothers, all working hard. Everybody has each other’s back on everything.”
A month later, the experience still stuck in Jurkovic’s mind. A couple of placards sent recently in the mail by Garrison — who has emerged as Nebraska’s ace recruiter — helped invigorate Jurkovic’s connection to Nebraska.
One placard touted the Huskers’ nation-leading nine Outland Trophies. The other pushed Memorial Stadium’s long sell-out streak. Garrison signed both with a silver marker. “WE
NEED YOU!” he wrote on the Outland Trophy card.
“That was pretty cool for me,” Jurkovic said. “I really liked those.”
The jack-of-all-trades lineman — who transferred this January from South Bend (Indiana) St. Joseph High School to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida — also likes Garrison.
“I liked the fact that he played O-line at Nebraska not too long ago,” Jurkovic said. “I like the fact that he’s very passionate at his job — willing to work to be the best — and is a very genuine guy.”
Thus Nebraska’s pitch stood out to the son of a former college All-American and the nephew of an NFL vet. Mirko Jurkovic Sr. was an All-American at Notre Dame. He died at 42 in January 2013 from complications from colon cancer. Jurkovic Jr.’s uncle, John Jurkovic, played in the NFL for a decade and is a sports-talk radio host in Chicago.
Notre Dame has not offered Jurkovic, and even if the Fighting Irish do, he said he’s done with the recruiting process. He spent much of the summer touring schools.
“I don’t worry about them,” Jurkovic said of Notre Dame. “I’m 100 percent committed to the Huskers.”
He’s also a big believer in the fledgling football program of IMG, a sports-themed boarding school that began as a tennis academy in the late 1970s.
What was once primarily a pipeline to pro tennis — Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova are well-known alums — has bloomed into a multi-sport training center. The academy costs $68,500 per year according to its website, although scholarships are available. The Ascenders, who started playing opponents in 2013, are coached by former Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and face teams from a variety of classes in Florida.
“It was an opportunity to train with the best and compete with the best,” Jurkovic said. “I got down here in January, and it’s nowhere near any other high school in the country from the training aspect and the coaching. It’s the best thing to set you up for a college career and college life.”
Jurkovic, who is being recruited for now as a right tackle, is the third offensive lineman to commit to the 2015 Husker class and the 11th commit overall. Omaha North offensive guard Michael Decker and Baldwin City, Kansas, offensive tackle Christian Gaylord are the other two commits. A potential 12th commit, New Orleans-area safety Hunter Dale, is supposed to either firm up a pledge to Nebraska or fully open his recruitment Wednesday.
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