Snapshot: Kraig Urbik

Steelers' second draft pick could find himself in the starting lineup with a strong training camp.

Kraig Urbik is pretty much used to the stereotype by now.

Urbik, the Steelers' third-round pick in April's NFL Draft, is a hulking 6-foot-5, 323-pound offensive lineman out of the University of Wisconsin who grew up in the tiny town of Hudson, Wis. To get to the house he grew up in, you'd have to turn on Prairie Lane and pass Stagecoach Trail, not far from Wagon Wheel Court, before arriving at the residence. Urbik even majored in agricultural journalism at Wisconsin, from which, incidentally, he needs one class to earn his degree.

A farm boy through and through?

Well, not really. Although Urbik fits the profile of a country-boy farmer from a tiny town in the midwest, he is anything but that. There are no farms within miles of his hometown and, no, he has never bailed hay or milked a cow in his life.

"No, not at all," said Urbik with a laugh.

Instead, he is at the other end of the spectrum.

Urbik grew up just 15 miles away from St. Paul, Minn., and actually spent the first 12 years of his life just outside of Chicago. He lived just a stone's throw from the Hudson Golf Club and planned on spending much of the first day of the draft golfing before rain changed those plans.

"I am from far being a country boy," Urbik said.

So what about that major?

"Believe me, I have no aspirations of being an agricultural journalist," Urbik said.

But he does have aspirations of being the Steelers' starting right guard come September. "He'll be definitely given an opportunity to show what he's capable of," Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said.

Urbik was one of the most decorated linemen to come out of Wisconsin.He started as a freshman and played 50 games over his four years in Madison. He allowed three sacks over his last three years.

"Starting that many games was special, especially at a school like Wisconsin," Urbik said. "It is a good tradition, but nothing like this. I want to show that I belong."

Urbik got the attention of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians almost immediately. Prior to the draft, Arians jotted down a few names of players he would love to draft. Urbik was one of them.

"(He is a) big, tough, nasty type of guy that has position flexibility," Arians said. "If you just go out and watch him play one-on-one, you aren't picking him on your team. When you put him in a football game, on offensive line, there are a lot of guys who don't play good one-on-one."

Urbik is hoping to continue the tradition of well-prepared, tough offensive linemen Wisconsin has sent to the NFL, a recent example is Cleveland's Joe Thomas. Thomas has started every game of his two-year career.

Urbik, despite a vote of confidence from Tomlin and Arians, isn't worried about supplanting Darnell Stapleton as the starting right guard quite yet.

"I am not looking ahead or at any kind of competition," Urbik said. "I am just going to try to come in and compete."

But Urbik could have a legitimate chance of starting the opener against the Tennessee Titans. Stapleton struggled down the stretch and in the Super Bowl last year, forcing the Steelers to look for a bigger and stronger guard to match up with some of the best nose tackles around, who happen to play in the AFC North.

"For us, we're playing in a division where there are no guard doubles," Arians said. "So it is more: Can he go to the second level and still come down and block the big nose guards that we have to face on our division? He has the ability to do both."

Arians doesn't ask his right guard to pull at all. So Urbik will be asked to line up and smash the guy in front of him.

"He'll fight you," Tomlin said. "He has the characteristics of those Wisconsin linemen. He's a smart guy. We'll see how he transitions."

The first minicamp was tough for Urbik because the coaching staff threw "about 90 percent of the offense" at him.

"Here they are asking us to do a lot of different things, technique-wise," Urbik said. "You have to get used to an entirely different offense."

The Steelers don't feel that will be an issue with this farm boy ... er, city slicker.


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