Jurek Knows Eyes Are On Bearcats Line

Bearcats junior center knows all eyes are on the quarterback. But before the signal caller can do a single thing with the football he must have someone snap it to him. Chris Jurek loves being at the center of attention with the pressure on him to deliver a perfect snap.

After practice has ended don't be surprised if you see Chris Jurek and a few others of the Bearcats centers working on snaps and their footwork. Jurek knows in Brian Kelly's offense the ball starts with him and the job he does makes or breaks a play.

"It all starts with the center and we know we've got to have a good snap for the play to work. Just like today, Evan Davis was out here working on his steps and hand placements to get the little things down."

For Jurek there has been a major difference in his confidence since last year's camp stay.

"I came out here last year not really knowing what to expect as one of the younger guys. So I worked hard and tried to pick up the offense and bond with the other guys the best I could. Now after having the spring and summer we've spent more time together and used that time for more bonding and work to improve our play. The biggest difference from last year to this year is knowing what to expect and when to expect it."

As with all positions on the field Chris has learned each day is a challenge and your job could be on the line.

"It doesn't matter who you are, you've got to work on snaps and technique each day to get the small stuff right or you'll be standing on the sideline watching the game instead of playing."

While Jurek was use to the style of play Mark Dantonio instilled in his offensive line, his size and style seem to fit well in Jeff Quinn's style as well.

"In high school I was use to blocking down and playing smash mouth football. But now we're a different type of offensive line. I don't want to say were a finesse line, but we use more technique and quickness on the field since we have five wide receivers out here. We know we've got to keep the intensity and have the ability to knock a guy off the line and drive him back, but we've also got to be able to make our block and reach the second level defender to keep a play alive."

For Jurek practice against the Bearcats defense is a great test for preparing for an upcoming season or game.

"Playing against Terrill Byrd is one of the greatest things I've done since coming here. Being able to play against an All-American means I've been tested each and every day in practice. How many guys can say they've played against an All-American for four years? It's gotten me much better and it's an honor when he earns All-American status to know I had a part in making him a better player. If I can hold up against an All-American I should be able to go up against any defensive lineman in the country."

One of the tests Terrill Byrd gives Jurek is the pad level the Bearcats defensive tackle is able to obtain from his height.

"Leverage is one of the keys to playing this game and going against Terrill makes me keep my pad level low because of his height. So that really helps me keep my pads low and making sure my hands stay inside. When it's game time I'm not as tired as we wear down defensive linemen because of my practice time against Terrill."

Jurek knows the Bearcats program has come a long way in the past few years.

"When I was being recruited by Cincinnati I didn't even know they had a football program. But the former staff did a great job of selling me on the new facilities and the direction the program was headed and I wanted to be part of that. Now with Coach Kelly here and the success we had last season we're starting to see the level this program can obtain."

One thing is for sure, Chris Jurek knows all eyes are on him and the other members of the Bearcats offensive line as the season approaches.

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