Closer To Home

Like many high school football players, Tyler Urban was looking forward to the recruiting process. And like many before him, he soon found that process to have both peaks and valleys.

Urban, a talented fullback/tight end prospect out of Norwin Senior High School outside of Pittsburgh, was one of 23 future Mountaineers to sign a letter of intent during Wednesday's much-hyped National Signing Day. The North Huntington, Pa. native had been on WVU's radar for some time, even after giving a verbal commitment in August to play his college football at rival Maryland.

Of course in football recruiting, there is no early signing period as there is in basketball. Thus, after taking some time to reflect on his decision, Urban began to think that perhaps he had pulled the trigger too early.

"If I had to do it over again, I probably would not have committed anywhere so early," Urban told on Saturday. "There was just so much left to learn."

His thinking was simple regarding the early decision: the ultimate team player did not want his senior season focus to be split between the present and the future.

"At the beginning, I was just excited to get the whole process started and see what schools were interested in me," he said. "At some points, it became cumbersome and annoying. I made the commitment, and that backed off some of the schools, but West Virginia would still call me once in a while just to see how I was doing."

As the season continued, one thing became clear on the recruiting front: the Mountaineers weren't exactly keen on taking no for an answer. Even after Urban's lead recruiter, defensive backs coach Tony Gibson, joined former WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, the lines of communication between Morgantown and North Huntington stayed open courtesy of Mountaineer defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.

When former tight ends coach Bill Stewart was promoted full-time to head coach following the Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, Urban decided to take a trip to Morgantown. During his visit, he had a chance to chat with new tight ends/fullbacks coach Doc Holliday.

With signing day nearing, Urban looked at his options and decided that the combination of West Virginia's location and new coaching staff was simply too much for him to pass up.

"I thought about it, and I wanted to stay closer to home," explained the well-spoken bruiser. "I came on my visit, took a look at the new coaching staff and liked them. That was one of the main things: being closer to home, and being comfortable with the new coaches."

Including, Urban says, new tight ends/fullbacks coach Doc Holliday.

". I was down there and talked to him, and sat with him in his office. I've heard he's a heck of a coach. I'm glad to have him be my coach."

West Virginia's lack of depth at the fullback/tight end positions combined with Urban's impressive size (6'4", 240 pounds) could equal early playing time as a freshman. With departed senior Owen Schmitt now on his way to the NFL, Mountaineer coaches are looking for an occupant to take over the vacancy left by one of the most popular players to ever don the Blue and Gold.

"I've watched him play," Urban said of Schmitt. "That's the position I'm going to play. I've bent some facemasks, but never broken one like him."

After a long and thorough process, Tyler Urban feels like he has finally found a college football home.

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