University of Virginia Cavaliers
Lorne Park Secondary School
Talk to the Virginia coaches and players and they will all say the same thing when talking about their colorful down lineman — Brent Urban marches to a different drummer. Taken with the 15th overall selection of the Canadian Football League draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013, the menacing defender greatly impressed the staff with the way he fought through injuries to return to the playing field last season.
Despite missing four games after suffering a lower extremity injury vs. Maryland, he could have watched the rest of the schedule from the sidelines, but did everything he could to get back on the field for the Cavaliers' final two contests. He would produce 10 of his 40 tackles and four of his 11.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage in those two combined appearances, convincing the league coaches to name him All-Atlantic Coast Conference honorable mention.
A Washington Post reporter spent some time at the Charlottesville campus last October and found some of the stories about the Cavalier defensive end to be truly amazing. Etched on the tombstone of Duane Allman, the Allman Brothers Band co-founder who died in a 1971 motorcycle accident, is the phrase "I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can."
They also serve as a mantra of sorts for Urban, a classic rock enthusiast who was so inspired by his favorite musician that he spent 10 hours at a tattoo parlor having Allman's entire 45-word epitaph — along with a Les Paul guitar — inked down the length of his left forearm. This, it seems, was just the latest quirk for a player who concedes "you kind of don't know what to expect with me off the field."
"He's definitely a character, a goofball," fellow defensive tackle David Dean said. Urban's self-admitted laid-back attitude is one of his calling cards, but defensive line coach Vincent Brown has high hopes about what his player could become on the football field in the coming years.
Over the past year, the fifth-year senior has morphed into one of Virginia's best 2014 NFL draft prospect, along with Morgan Moses, making a fast rise on the draft boards as one of the elite offensive tackles in the upcoming draft. Head coach Mike London said every pro scout who has been through Charlottesville in recent months left talking about how impressive Urban looked.
But perhaps more important for the Cavaliers, that potential started to show up on Saturdays, since Urban earned a starting job as a junior. "He can be a dominant player," Brown said. "I think his upside is off the charts." The success has been a long time coming for the native of Mississauga, Ontario, one of three Canadians on the Cavaliers' roster.
Virginia was the first program to offer Urban a scholarship after he attended several recruiting camps in the United States and he chose the Cavaliers because it appeared former Coach Al Groh's 3-4 defensive alignment would be perfect for his skill set. The senior stand 6:06.5, 295 pounds and many NFL scouts envision him as a prototypical 3-4 defensive end at the next level.
That includes the Canadian Football League. Urban was studying for an exam last May when he received a telephone call from Hamilton Tiger-Cats Coach Kent Austin. He had just been selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 CFL draft.
Urban never considered leaving Charlottesville early, but the attention didn't come as a surprise for first-year Virginia defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta. He fielded calls all spring from CFL scouts wanting to glean more information about the redshirt senior he had already dubbed "The Urbanator."
Tenuta was North Carolina State's defensive play-caller in 2012, when Urban had three tackles and a sack in the Cavaliers' 33-6 win. "You just knew who the guy was. He was in our backfield every play," Tenuta said. "The bigger he's gotten, he's [become] a force to be reckoned with. If he keeps doing what he's doing and stays healthy, he'll be playing on Sundays."
Brown marvels at his pupil's combination of size and flexibility, although he still must tell Urban at times, "Here's what you could become." How all that potential translates to the rest of this season could determine just how far he shoots up NFL draft boards. But if Urban needs any inspiration, he need only look down at the words inked into his left arm.
Back in Ontario, Urban was a tall lineman with a long wing span for head coach John Musselman at Lorne Park Secondary School. He received a two-star grade from Scout.com, along with being listed as the 59th-best defensive end in the North American prep ranks by ESPN and 104th by Scout.com.
Urban was a two-time Toronto Star All-Star and registered 16 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and eight pass break-ups as a junior. The multi-talented athlete was an imposing figure that played left wing on the best junior hockey team in North America. He also starred for the school's basketball team.
Urban redshirted as a freshman in 2009 at Virginia, but injuries limited him to just 13 snaps on defense while appearing in three games the following season. He appeared in 13 games as a reserve strong-side defensive end in 2011, delivering 15 tackles that included 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
As a junior, Urban was shifted inside to strong-side tackle. With 12 starts under his belt, he collected 20 tackles with a pair of sacks and recovered a fumble vs. Virginia Tech that he returned 16 yards for a score. "That was definitely a big moment for me," Urban said. "Virginia Tech was definitely a big game for me that had people looking at me."
Urban started all eight games that he appeared in as a senior. The strong-side tackle posted four stops-for-loss vs. Pittsburgh to earn National Defensive Player of the Week honors and collected a career-high 40 tackles with 11.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage during his final campaign. Hoping to impress NFL teams, he looked forward to playing in the 2014 Senior Bowl, but during one of his intense training sessions, he suffered a badly sprained ankle and had to pull out of the game.
Urban played in 36 games, earning 20 starting assignments at strong-side defensive end for Virginia…Registered 75 tackles (26 solos) with three sacks for minus-15 yards, 16.5 stops for losses of 48 yards, two quarterback pressures and 11 pass deflections…Also blocked one kick.