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“I think his upside is off the charts,” assistant coach Vincent Brown said of Cavaliers defensive tackle Brent Urban.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
Virginia’s Brent Urban (left) celebrates in the end zone with LaRoy Reynolds after scoring on a 16-yard fumble recovery against Virginia Tech last season.
The Roanoke Times
This is Brent Urban’s hockey card when he played in Canada.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Had Brent Urban elected to pursue ice hockey as a career, he would have met most of the physical requirements for an enforcer.
An enforcer’s mentality could be the next stage in Urban, a fifth-year Virginia defensive tackle, as a football player.
“He is a very laid-back young man,” said assistant Vincent Brown, who coaches the UVa defensive line, “but, there’s some fire in him. You wish you could get a little more out of him at times, but he plays hard. There’s never any question about his effort and his intensity.
“He’s a very good player. I think his upside is off the charts. We just want him to [realize], ‘Here’s what you can become. If you believe it, here’s what you can become.’ ”
Urban, a 6-foot-7, 295-pounder from Missisauga, Ontario, started all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, but nobody really noticed him until the season finale, when he forced a fumble and returned
it 16 yards for a touchdown at Virginia Tech.
Then, there was UVa’s spring game in April, when he was credited with 3 1⁄2 sacks.
Some of those were “touch” sacks that resulted in play being stopped as soon as the quarterback was touched.
In 30 career games, Urban has two official sacks, neither coming this season.
That probably has something to do with the opposition, although Urban has knocked down four passes, three in Virginia’s 19-16 victory over Brigham Young in the opener.
That previously was not part of his arsenal.
“I’ve been watching the quarterback’s eyes and not putting my hands up too early,” he said.
There is a skating rink at Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall but Urban hasn’t been there. In an interview during the 2012 season, he said he needed to remember to bring his skates from home. Almost a year later, he hasn’t done it.
There’s no question that he was serious about hockey when he was younger, as demonstrated by the player card he brought to an interview session Monday.
Moreover, he was a physical force, measuring 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds as an 11-year-old.
“I played at a fairly high level,” Urban said. “Our team won All-Ontarios, which is a big deal. I was a left winger. Scored a couple goal in my time. Had a few fights.”
Two of Urban’s junior teammates are in the NHL: center Casey Cizikas with the New York Islanders and defenseman Ryan Ellis with the Nashville Predators.
“In high school, I started getting a lot of letters from the states,” said Urban, spotted by the Cavaliers during a Nike camp at Penn State. “So, I thought football was the way to go. As far as hockey goes, it’s harder to get a scholarship.”
Virginia wasn’t averse to recruiting Canadians, including offensive guard Austin Pasztor, a first-team All-ACC choice in 2012 who is in his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Pasztor prepped at Fork Union Military Academy, as did Ryan Doull, a redshirt freshman offensive guard for the Cavaliers this season. Like Urban, Doull and UVa sophomore defensive end Trent Corney are from Ontario.
In his free time, Urban likes to play the guitar and he has a tattoo running down the length of his left arm in memory of Allman Brothers co-founder and guitarist Duane Allman, who was killed in a 1971 motorcyle crash.
If he can be a little mellow at times, it hasn’t kept Urban from being noticed by scouts from both the NFL and the Canadian Football League.
He was selected in the second round of this year’s CFL draft, with the No. 15 pick overall, by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. They will have his CFL rights for two years.
First-year UVa defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta said, “I had numerous Canadian football coaches call me and say, ‘Hey, is he coming out for the Canadian draft? He’ll be a top six pick.”
The only time Tenuta had really seen Urban was when the Cavaliers played last year at North Carolina State, where Tenuta was the defensive coordinator. UVa won that game 33-6.
“You just knew who that guy was,” Tenuta said. “He was in our backfield every snap. Then watching him during spring ball, he does things naturally that a lot of guys can’t do.
“He has fundamental techniques that, however he’s developed them, he’s developed them. 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.”
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