Urban Renewal

With the chance to spend an entire offseason in Morgantown for the first time, one Mountaineer tight end is trying to apply the lessons learned from his first season as he works towards improving in year two.

Western Pennsylvania product Tyler Urban said the chance to spend the entire spring and summer thus far on football and academics is a departure from the situation he faced just one year ago, when he arrived with the rest of the then-freshmen at the end of June.

That means an extra chance to add strength through weightlifting while still focusing on speed work.

"Getting into the season, I think I feel a lot more in shape, strength-wise," Urban said.

That added muscle-mass is shown by an increase in weight that the sophomore desires. Under the direction of strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph, Urban is working on tipping the scales at a slightly higher number than he played at a season ago.

"I want to play at 250 (pounds), so I'm trying to do that and maintain my speed at the same time," said Urban. "Me and Coach Joseph have been working together so I get that weight on correctly. I'm hoping to get a little over 250 because during camp I'll probably lose a good five pounds at least."

Any additional muscle Urban can put on now may be beneficial, as the Norwin High alumnus showed a predisposition to dropping weight during his freshman campaign.

"Last year, I dropped down to around 230 or 235 at times," Urban explained. "That extra muscle can help me block the heavy D-ends and linebackers."

Adding weight in the form of muscle (and not fat) doesn't come without sweat equity in the gym.

The difficulty of a full summer in the Milan Puskar Center weight room has become apparent to the still-young Urban, who was the Danny Van Etten award winner as the team's rookie of the year in the eyes of the West Virginia coaches after his performance last season.

"It's a lot of hard work," he said. "We're up to five days a week – two of 7-on-7s, three of lifting and speed. We're really getting after it this summer."

The players have gotten a much-needed respite this week, as Joseph has ordered all of them to stay out of the weight room and take a long July 4th holiday week to rest and recover.

That break may simply be the "calm before the storm," so to speak, as players will return to their work next week and continue to remain involved in football for the vast majority of days between then and a December or January bowl trip.

That much focus on football can lead to burnout for even the most passionate of players, but Urban said the strength and conditioning staff under Joseph's direction is doing everything it can to prevent such issues.

"If you take advantage of the weeks you have off – if you're off when they say you should be off – you should be fine," the finance major said.

"It gets after you after awhile. Just doing football and school, you don't really have a break between any of that. You'll have a couple of days where you just feel slow. But if you have a week off of football, at least that's a week away from something and you can feel a little more revived."

NOTES:

  • After the first few weeks of player-organized 7-on-7 drills, Urban said veteran quarterback Jarrett Brown and highly-touted freshman Eugene Smith are throwing the football "on lasers."

    The sophomore coined Smith "a young Jarrett," and said the play of the signal-callers is forcing the other skill position players on offense keep a tight focus on the task at hand.

    "You turn and the ball is right there," Urban said. "That's good, but you have to pay attention at all times so you know where the ball is at."

    Among those who have impressed the tight end on the opposite side of the ball, veteran linebacker Reed Williams and young safety Robert Sands were Urban's quick picks for star defensive performers in 7-on-7 work.

  • While Urban was among the latest arrivals a season ago, joining the West Virginia team at the traditional mid-summer point, it has become increasingly popular for true freshmen to arrive on campus at earlier points.

    This summer has been no exception, as eight incoming players arrived on campus four weeks ago to begin their work as Mountaineers. After not having had that opportunity himself, the sophomore has seen first-hand the benefits that a bit of extra time working on campus can provide.

    "I think these few weeks have really made quite an adjustment for them," Urban said. "They've learned the offense in those few weeks, so they're ahead of the incoming freshmen that (just arrived this past weekend). It's beneficial."

  • Heading into a season with perhaps lower than typical expectations, Urban said he and his Mountaineer teammates have noticed the negativity and plan on making a statement when the season finally begins.

    "Inside our team, we know the capabilities we have and what we can do," he said. "There's some doubters out there, but come time for the season, we'll prove a lot."


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