It fits. Cam Jurgens, the Eagles’ second-round choice with the 51st overall pick, can teach Eagles’ center incumbent Jason Kelce about cattle ranching, since the all-time Eagle just bought some cows, and Kelce can teach the rookie the nuances of being an outstanding NFL center.
Jurgens, 6-foot-3, 303-pound center out of Nebraska, was speaking to the media under a tornado warning. But he got enough time to express his delight on being chosen by the Eagles, and what it will mean this season learning under Kelce and Eagles’ highly respected offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
“I’m so excited being able to play at the NFL at the highest level and this was my favorite team all along, and Kelce was a dude I looked up to,” said Jurgens, a converted tight end. “It was kind of early on in my career, went there at tight end, went through the off-season and fall camp and within the first game, our O-line coach and head coach, [Nebraska head coach] Coach [Scott] Frost, brought it up, like, ‘Hey, we want you at center.’
“Initially my reaction was holy crap, I don’t know if I can gain that weight. I was probably like 240, and once I made that switch midway through the year, I put on a lot of weight really fast. That part was easy, but learning all the technicalities of it, that was a little bit of the struggle and took a little bit to harness everything.
“At the end of the day, I loved the switch. Within a week of being in the O-line, I was like, why was I ever a tight end? I was tired of running down the field to not get a ball thrown my way. I love hitting dudes, so to be able to do that every play, that’s my stuff.”
In short period of time, Jurgens wondered why he was ever a tight end. Jurgens said he was willing to learn behind Kelce, who met Jurgens when he visited the NovaCare Complex.
It’s when Kelce mentioned he had just bought some cows, and Jurgens mentioned he grew up on a cattle farm. They spoke ranching and football.
From left to right, the Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in football, with tackle Jordan Mailata and guard Isaac Seuamlo holding down the left side, perennial All-Pro Kelce in the middle, and with guard Landon Dickerson and tackle Lane Johnson on the right.
The Eagles now have considerable depth at center behind Kelce, with Seuamlo, Dickerson and now Jurgens all with center experience.
Jurgens also likes playing under Stoutland. Jurgens played under Greg Austin at Nebraska, a Stoutland protégé, so he feels it’s going to be a smooth transition.
“I think his reputation speaks for itself, and a lot of this stuff I did in Nebraska and stuff I was taught, especially the terminology, was very similar to what they do,” said Jurgens in reference to Stoutland. “My O-line coach, Greg Austin, coached with him for several years, so he came from that system, and that’s his guy, that’s his mentor, and kind of learned from his protege, in my Coach Austin.
“So, a lot of this stuff is a little bit of carryover and getting to learn from Coach Stout now, it’s a dream come true because it’s stuff I’ve been doing already. I’m excited to keep learning, get to go learn from him with all the incredible guys he’s coached in all of his years in the NFL and get to learn from Kelce and [T] Lane Johnson and all those guys along that line.
“I don’t know if there’s a better spot for O-linemen to land than Philly to get to learn from Coach Stoutland.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.