PHILADELPHIA – It’s not clear if Cam Jurgens has a little dog Toto, though what the Eagles’ latest second-round draft pick has is tornadoes where he grew up, which was in southeast Nebraska in a town of about 200 people called Pickrell, in what is known as tornado alley.
On the night the Eagles made Jurgens the 51st overall selection in the NFL Draft, a tornado warning sounded on his cell phone just 10 minutes before GM Howie Roseman called to let him know he would be an Eagle.
The celebration didn’t last long before booming blasts of thunder cracked overhead and lightning lit up the sky. Hail soon followed.
“I’m like, 'All right guys, we have to go downstairs now,'” said Jurgens, who is in Philly this weekend as part of the team’s two-day rookie minicamp.
Everybody began heading to the storm cellar except Jurgens’ grandmother, who stayed put while the celebration moved downstairs, because as Jurgens said, "she doesn't walk up ad down stairs well."
“I gotta think I’m going to remember that for a long time,” he added. “It was excitement then all of a sudden chaos of a tornado and thunder and lightning and hail coming in. It was crazy.”
It’s pretty clear why the Eagles liked Jurgens, at least the off-field Jurgens. His play at the professional level is still to be determined.
On Friday, however, during his pre-practice availability, he was outgoing, humorous, and looked extremely comfortable and poised in front of a dozen or so beat writers.
Jurgens was asked a few more questions about tornadoes and even threw in a tsunami.
“We’ve had kind of a few go through that area,” he said. “We had one take our shingles off the house, but our house is still standing. I feel like a meteorologist up here, this is great. When I was in California, I got a tsunami warning I was like what the hell is this?”
Wait’ll he gets a load of potentially playing guard. That’s what both head coach Nick Sirianni and Roseman said Jurgens could do if the need arises.
Jurgens is cool with it if it happens even though he was a three-year starter at the University of Nebraska.
“I’m a football player and I’m a soldier, so if you tell me to do something I’m going to do it,” he said. “That’s what I came here to play was to play football, so if they want me at guard or whatever, I’m up for it. That’s my mentality going into it.
“I want to go in expecting that I’m going to play right away. I don’t want to think it’s a redshirt year or something because you never know when something’s going to happen, so if I’m preparing like I’m going to play, and I have someone there to watch and critique me and show me how it’s done (like Jason Kelce), I can get prepared that much faster to be prepared to play right away.”
Jurgens is the second straight offensive lineman the Eagles have taken in the second round after taking Landon Dickerson last year, with the thinking being that Dickerson would back-up Kelce.
Instead, Dickerson became the starting left guard and that looks like the position he will anchor going forward, so who knows what might happen?
The Eagles' thinking is that they got an athletic offensive lineman at 6-2, 305 pounds and the rest will figure itself out.
Much was made of Kelce liking Jurgens so much that it is why the Eagles took him, and make no mistake, Kelce likes him a lot.
“I'm pretty excited about the kid,” Kelce said earlier in the week. “I like him a lot. I like his tools, I like his mentality. Probably overstated a little bit, my involvement in that selection so I'd probably like to step that back a little bit.
“…Cam's got a number of things (I like) as well as a number of guys on this roster, but Cam is not only athletic, he plays hard, he's physical, he's tough. All the times you see him miss a block, a lot of it is just over-aggression or not tempoing properly and very correctable things.”
Jurgens will learn soon enough that he’s not in Kansas…er, Nebraska, anymore when he begins to play games that matter in Lincoln Financial Field in front of a fan base that may be divided over whether or not a backup center or guard is something this team needed at the moment, especially in the second round.
“They’re passionate, no doubt,” said Jurgens. “They love you and if you do something wrong they’re going to let you know. They hold players accountable, so I want to go out there and do my best.
"You can’t let outside noises get to you. You have to listen to the voices within this building, so...at the end of the day that’s kind of the fan base you want to play for, guys who are passionate and love their city.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.