CEDAR RAPIDS – Keaton Juergens didn’t even make Coe College’s preseason football prospectus.
The wide receiver from Elkader Central literally was a footnote, a slip of paper stapled to the guide the morning of Kohawk Media Day in late August.
“We kind of felt bad about that,” said Coe Coach Steve Staker. “But we were just erring on the side of caution.”
Staker and his staff didn’t know about Juergens’ availability since he wasn’t medically cleared to play his senior season until two weeks into fall camp. A summer concussion and herniated disk he’s had since high school placed his football career in serious jeopardy.
Juergens got multiple medical opinions on his condition, finally getting the OK from a doctor at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
“I had gotten a concussion over the summer, actually, and that whole issue came back up. So they were thinking about not letting me play,” Juergens said. “They were just concerned about it. I have never had any symptoms or problems with it.
“Finally got cleared by a doctor in Iowa City. It was a really good feeling because I wanted to play so badly with these guys. You always dream about your senior year, whether it’s high school or college. It’s one of the best times of your life.”
Thus far it has been for Juergens and the Kohawks, where are 5-0 and ranked in the top 20 nationally in NCAA Division III. Coe hosts Dubuque (3-2) Saturday afternoon at 1 in a big Iowa Conference game.
Both teams are 2-0 in the league.
“I got a couple opinions on my condition,” Juergens said. “I wasn’t going to just give up with one opinion. It worked out for me, and I’m glad it did.”
“Thanks goodness because he has played very well,” Staker said. “He is a huge part of our offense, not only receiving but also blocking. He’s a very good blocker.”
Juergens provides an inviting receiving target for quarterbacks Josh Rekers and Mark Atwater at 6-foot-4 and 203 pounds. He has a career-high 30 catches already this season for 389 yards and a touchdown, ranking second in the IIAC in receptions per game and third in reception yards per game.
He averaged 17 yards a catch last season as a junior. He has 84 career grabs.
“I think Josh and I are working well together,” Juergens said. “Josh had to step up when Mark went down with an injury in Game 1, and he’s been playing great. He’s been playing really poised and comfortable. In practice, we pretty much take all of our reps together, so I’m getting a lot more comfortable with him. I think we have good chemistry with each other on the field.”
Juergens came to Coe with quarterback Tyler Sylvester after helping Elkader Central to the playoffs for the first time as juniors and seniors. He was a wingback as a freshman and sophomore for the Warriors but moved to split end his junior season.
It turned out to be a prudent position change.
“I guess I found out I was better at that than running back,” he said. “So that’s the position I took up here.”
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