Urschel's Trip Goes as Planned

The New York lineman intended to commit to PSU on his visit. Things went so well that he did. See what went down during his stay in Happy Valley.

John Urschel pretty much knew he wanted to attend Penn State even before his visit this past weekend. Urschel (pronounced UR-shul) flew under the radar for much of the year, until the Nittany Lions' staff began recruiting the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Buffalo, N.Y., offensive line prospect in December.

While he liked Penn State from the start, he wanted to wait until he was on campus to make his commitment. He trip went well and -- as expected -- he declared for the Lions, telling assistant Mike McQueary of his decision.

How did things unfold on his trip?

“Me and my mom came up Thursday night to avoid the bad weather in Buffalo,” Urschel said. “Friday, they set us up with a meeting with the honors college. After that they took us out to dinner. Saturday, in the morning, they basically just did a lot of tours. They showed us around the facilities.”

Sophomore guard Stefen Wisniewski served as Urschel's host for the weekend. Wisniewski showed Urschel around campus and introduced him to other Penn State players and students throughout the weekend stay.

“Saturday night we had a nice dinner at the Nittany Lion Inn,” Urschel said. “It was pretty good. The parents went to Coach (Joe) Paterno's house and I just went back with my host. I got to hang out with some football players and some students.”

It seems like every year as signing day nears, Penn State lands what is often considered a “sleeper” prospect. Urschel appears to fit that bill. A humble Urschel explained he didn't think playing at a Division I school, let alone a BCS school, was a possibility until his high school coach sent out film to colleges in late 2008.

“[Penn State] started recruiting me in December,” Urschel said. “I came on late because I didn't really plan to be recruited by big-time schools. At first I was looking at Ivy League schools just to get an education and based on my academic credentials. That's where my family thought I'd be playing football. After my senior year, my coach made me a highlight tape and just sent it to a few big schools to test the waters. I got some great feedback from some great programs that I wasn't expecting.”

Boston College gave Urschel a written scholarship offer, as did the Nittany Lions.

“I was talking to Stanford, Miami (Fla.) -- they really liked my tape -- but Penn State, I mean, that was just the overwhelming thing,” Urschel said. “I was really excited they liked my film. I never really thought this high a level would be an option for me. When you're a high school football player, you don't necessarily know what constitutes a good enough player to be a recruit for Penn State. I knew I was great in terms of competition in western New York, but I didn't know where I stood on the national scale.”

Among his many stops during his visit, Urschel visited the Schreyer Honors College Friday. He also met with a couple faculty members from Penn State's engineering department. Urschel indicated he anticipates majoring in engineering. As for what type of engineering he plans on majoring in, it's still up in the air.

“I'm thinking mechanical engineering or aerospace engineering,” Urschel said. “The coaches told me that they hope I apply to the honors college and I plan to. I think it would be a good way to challenge myself.”

In addition to encouraging Urschel to apply to Schreyer Honors College, the Penn State staff indicated that he will likely see time at guard once he gets on campus next summer. While tackle has been Urschel's primary position at Canisius High, he is no stranger to playing on the offensive line.

“I've been playing tackle since I was a freshman on the varsity team and defensive tackle since last year just to help my team out,” he said.

In the end, Urschel joined Shawney Kersey and Paul Jones as the three commitments the Nittany Lions came away with over the weekend -- so far. For Urschel, there is no question he made the right decision.

“I was sure that Penn State was for me before I even came up,” Urschel said. “I was almost positive of the fact. When I came up, it was all that I hoped for and more. It was amazing. I loved it. I'm 100 percent positive that Penn State is the place for me.”

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