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Texas detour worked out well for CU Buffs walk-on WR Jack Hestera

Legacy Buff stood out at spring showcase

Jack Hestera catches a pass from Montana Lemonius-Craig during the University of Colorado Boulder Spring football game on April 23, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Jack Hestera catches a pass from Montana Lemonius-Craig during the University of Colorado Boulder Spring football game on April 23, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

As far as Jack Hestera is concerned, he has been a Colorado Buffalo at heart pretty much since he learned to walk.

To become part of the Buffaloes program officially, however, Hestera felt compelled to gamble on himself by moving from his beloved Centennial State to Texas.

A newcomer with a rich family legacy within the Colorado football program, Hestera, a walk-on freshman receiver, enjoyed a head-turning spring with the Buffs. Yet it required a one-year Texas detour to finish high school in order to make Hestera’s dream come true.

“I’ve been a Buff since I was a little kid,” Hestera said. “It’s nothing new in the family.”

Hestera’s father, Dan, won a Colorado state championship at Pomona High in Arvada in 1988 and added a national championship as part of the Buffs’ roster in 1990. Hestera’s uncle, Dave, is an even more decorated former Buff, earning three All-Big Eight honors — honorable mention in 1981, second team in 1982, and first team in 1983 — as a tight end before getting selected in the ninth round of the 1984 NFL draft by Kansas City.

Hestera was hoping to take his place in that legacy as a receiver at Ralston Valley where, as a junior in 2019, he was part of a Mustangs team that reached the Class 5A state semifinals. Although his future was at receiver, Hestera recorded a pair of interceptions that season as a defensive back. Yet the following spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Hestera felt as if he faced a crossroads.

After the Colorado High School Activities Association initially announced a delay to the 2020 football season, Hestera, still hoping to catch the eye of college recruiters, felt as if he was in limbo. Wanting to be proactive instead of waiting to discover the fate of Colorado high school football — some programs ultimately played in the fall of 2020, though many opted to play a delayed season in the spring of 2021 — Hestera took his cleats to Texas.

Landing at Cedar Park High School, Hestera helped lead his team to a 13-1 record, recording 53 receptions for 1,061 yards with a school-record 16 touchdowns.

“They canceled football in Colorado, and I was still trying to get recruited,” Hestera said. “I was able to go down there (to Texas) for my senior year of high school. It worked out really well. I was super-blessed to be able to be in that position. It was a hard situation, but my team at Cedar Park welcomed me in with open arms and just helped me. They were great people down there.”

Much like his Texas sojourn, Hestera took advantage of his situation this spring with the Buffs. With several expected regulars sidelined, it was a pair of walk-ons — Hestera and running back Charlie Offerdahl — who were CU’s most effective players on offense during Saturday’s Spring Showcase. Hestera recorded three catches for a team-high 50 yards and credited first-year receivers coach Phil McGeoghan for pushing him during what turned into an impressive spring.

“Coach Phil, he kind of plans out our reps and lets us know where we’re going to be and how many we’re going to get,” Hestera said. “I knew I was going to get in there. Coach Phil is awesome. He’s great. He’s done nothing but helped us and made us better each day he’s been here.”