Now and Then

Brian Urlacher has come a long way from Lovington, New Mexico (population 9,000), the tiny oil town in southeast New Mexico where he grew up.<p>

And it's a long way back. When Brian Urlacher returned recently to host a charity basketball game for his old high school, he flew into Lubbock, Texas, and then had to drive two hours into town.

Urlacher doesn't get home as often as he would like, but when he does it reinforces how far he's come and how unlikely his journey has been.

"I came out of nowhere," he said. "No one recruited me out of high school (except New Mexico and New Mexico State). In college (at New Mexico), no one really knew who I was until I (emerged) my last two years.

"Everything I've done, I've just ended up getting better every year. I feel like I've done the right things to try to get better every year, but the biggest thing is I just came out of nowhere."

Urlacher was a 5-foot-10, 160-pound high school sophomore who grew to 6-3 and 210 pounds as a senior, when he led his team to a 14-0 record and a state championship as a wide receiver, tight end, safety and kick returner.

Urlacher caught 61 passes for 1,348 yards and 15 TDs as a senior. He also returned four punts and two kickoffs for scores and had a pair of rushing TDs.


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