The four-sport standout and 4.0 student from Keokuk, Vandenberg, had only been holding one college football offer up until this past week. This week he got an offer that makes up a little for the lack of attention that he has received so far this season.
"It's been busy," Vandenberg said. "Just to talk about the Nebraska offer it's been five or six other phone calls to talk about this offer. I can't imagine those five-star guys to talk about 25 offers."
Sometimes it isn't the number of offers that you have to generate attention, but sometimes it's from whom. Vandenberg agrees. He knows first-hand from the times he has been in Lincoln that Nebraska's fans make college game days special in Lincoln.
"That is right. Nebraska's fans definitely create the best atmosphere at any game that I have ever been to. I've been to a bunch of games, maybe six or seven."
"I wasn't able to go to any games this year. I went to two or three games last year; Texas, Missouri and Colorado game. I was going to go to the USC game this year, but I couldn't. Nebraska's atmosphere is one of a kind."
The offer showed up at James' high school on Tuesday morning. The letter was hand-delivered by Keokuk's coach to Vandenberg who was in class. Neither had any idea what the contents were of the envelope.
"I received the offer on Tuesday morning. My coach brought it into my home room and we didn't have any idea what it was. I opened it up and my jaw pretty much dropped. It was very exciting. They have always been one of my favorite schools and to get that offer was exciting."
The Nebraska offer brought the offer total up to two. The other offer was enough for Vandenberg because he knew that he would get that chance to play college football and get his education paid for.
"Up to that point, I had just received that one offer from Northern Illinois. I was excited about going to Northern to play if that is what it came down to."
Vandenberg knows what it took to get the offer from Nebraska. The fact of the matter is, someone had taken the quarterback spot in the Nebraska class. "With the decommitment of Blaine Gabbert from Nebraska I finally got a chance. It's really been great to get the offer from Nebraska."
It's said that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Gabbert decommitted from Nebraska amid the questions surrounding the Nebraska coaching staff. Vandenberg understands the situation about Nebraska and says that it doesn't change a lot for him.
"Not at all. You have to respect Gabbert. He is a very highly rated player and everyone is going after him. If you aren't going after him it makes you look dumb. I know every school in the Midwest that was recruiting me was recruiting Gabbert."
"I knew that wherever Gabbert went that it was going to take away my chance from there. I was perfectly fine with that. They made their choice, and I knew that I was pretty high on Nebraska's board, but I figured Gabbert was probably ahead of me."
"Gabbert is a great player and he has a ton of offers. I know that if Nebraska landed him that I might be out of luck because of it. He decommitted and I have my chance. It's great to get that offer."
"If Gabbert didn't take the chance I thought that I might have the opportunity with a good senior year. I knew that the coaching staff rumors might shake him up, and you can understand his decision, but I don't think that it downplays Nebraska for me. Nebraska is Nebraska."
Vandenberg knows more about Gabbert than what some might think. The two of them have actually spent time working with the same quarterback coach. "He and I actually work with Skip Stitzell, who has also worked with the Elite 11, and I have worked with him and I know that Gabbert works with him a lot."
With the Nebraska offer in-hand, don't think that this is a done deal for Nebraska. The Nebraska offer is really on the up-swing for a lot of interest that Vandenberg has been enjoying recently.
Vandenberg isn't quick to give his own abilities credit when it comes to talking about what he does well as a quarterback. He knows that without the other 10 players on the field with him at the same time that he is just one guy.
"First of all, I have a great team. I have great lineman and some great receivers that make plays all night long. I would say that my biggest strengths are my arm strength and my decision making. It's my job to get the football to the guys that are going to make plays."
The "Everybody respects Nebraska's program. Just because they have had one down year doesn't mean anything. I know that I haven't been more impressed with that staff and those facilities. I don't know how recruits turn it down. It's always been one of my favorite places."
Receiving the offer was one thing, but understanding who will actually be in Lincoln to possibly coach Vandenberg is another. There is no information that Vandenberg could pass along regarding that and he knows that he just has to be patient with Nebraska.
"I think that only time will tell that. I am a huge fan of Bill Callahan and his assistant coaches. I have the utmost respect for them. I think that they are a great group of guys. I won't really know until I hear what is going to happen. It's crazy, all the different scenarios I have heard."
The offer couldn't have come at a better time for Vandenberg. It was a bit of a reminder about what all of the hard work is for. Coincidentally, it came at one of the busiest times of the season for Vandenberg.
"It's been hectic. I spoke to Coach Dennis Wagner after Gabbert decommitted and I was supposed to speak with Coach Callahan, but he was in a meeting. It's been hectic here too with the season. That's what made getting that offer the other day even more sweet."
Although it seems that Vandenberg is very interested in Nebraska, and Nebraska in him, that a decision isn't in the immediate future. There is still some season to go and recruiting is in the back seat for now.
"It's been a dream to want to play there and I have the opportunity to do that now. We aren't going to worry about that until the season is over with."
On Saturday, Keokuk came to a close as they entered the state finals as an underdog to Sioux Falls (Iowa) Heelan. Vandenberg was 18 of 26 for 219 yards with 3 touchdown passes. Keokuk won the game and clinched a state title, 42-7.