Char­lottesville ‘was hor­ri­ble’

Sunday Sports - - WEEK 1 - JOHN KRYK jokryk@post­media.com @JohnKryk — John Kryk

Brent Ur­ban lived for five years in Char­lottesville, Va., up to 2014, while on football schol­ar­ship at the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia.

Yes, he watched on TV that aw­ful Satur­day in Au­gust as es­ca­lat­ing in the Ravens’ D-line ro­ta­tion. He notched two sacks and grad­u­ally be­gan to see what he could be­come as an NFLer, es­pe­cially late in the sea­son. Head coach John Har­baugh rat­tled his cage a bit dur­ing a Dec. 4 game against Miami.

“I got into the back­field and kind of missed a tackle. It should have been a TFL (tackle-for-loss),” Ur­ban said. “Coach comes up to me and says, ‘Look how big you are. You should be mak­ing those kinds of plays.’ You know, giv­ing me a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

“You don’t nec­es­sar­ily look at your­self as one of the big­gest guys out there all the time. And com­ing off those in­juries, your sense of self is maybe down­played, I guess, be­cause you might not have full con­fi­dence. So I guess that kind of helped me re­al­ize what I have go­ing for my­self, and re­ally boosted my con­fi­dence in the sit­u­a­tion. I think I went out there later in the game and ended up hav­ing a TFL.”

Ur­ban said he spent most of this year’s off-sea­son work­ing out at Ravens head­quar­ters. This is a con­tract year for him, the most im­por­tant sea­son for an NFLer from a money stand­point. Specif­i­cally, it’s just months be­fore his four-year rookie con­tract ex­pires in March.

The sec­ond con­tract is where the real money is. Is it hard for Ur­ban not to think about that? Ac­tu­ally, no, he said. “If you just fo­cus on get­ting bet­ter ev­ery day, you’ll play well and then get an op­por­tu­nity some­where. The rest will take care of it­self.”

A cat­a­lyst in al­low­ing the late­bloom­ing Ur­ban to bloom at all is hav­ing the same head coach, same de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor (Dean Pees) and same over­all scheme through his four years in Bal­ti­more. Not many fourthyear NFL play­ers can say that. See the Buf­falo Bills, Cleve­land Browns, San Fran­cisco 49ers …

“It’s great,” Ur­ban said. “I go vi­o­lence be­tween armed white­supremacist de­mon­stra­tors and bait­ing pro­test­ers blem­ished one of Amer­ica’s old­est univer­sity towns. Ca­su­alty count: Three dead, 19 in­jured.

“Oh, it was hor­ri­ble. It was a ter­ri­ble thing,” Ur­ban said. “Your heart just goes out to all those into ev­ery train­ing camp know­ing all the plays al­ready, kind of. I’m able to look specif­i­cally at each move­ment in more de­tail now, ev­ery time I go over it and over it and over it. So con­ti­nu­ity re­ally helps. You re­ally get a bet­ter sense of what the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor is do­ing, and you get a bet­ter rap­port with the play­ers around you in the same sys­tem.

“An ex­tra year is go­ing to help you around great coach­ing. You should be in an up­ward tra­jec­tory as long as you’re in your early years, which is where I con­sider I am. I should keep get­ting bet­ter.”

Check. vic­tims. It’s hard to make sense of it, re­ally.

“It’s one of those things where you have had your time and your ex­pe­ri­ence there, and you’ve never as­so­ci­ated that with any acts of vi­o­lence or ha­tred or any­thing like that. It was just a ter­ri­ble thing to see.

“Ob­vi­ously, change needs to hap­pen. Hope­fully some pos­i­tives can hap­pen be­cause of it, and help the coun­try come to­gether and re­ally stamp out those is­sues.”

What made it all the more dif­fi­cult for Ur­ban to com­pre­hend was when he con­tin­u­ally rec­og­nized places in Char­lottesville he knew well.

“For sure. Ev­ery scene on TV showed places I was fa­mil­iar with. It was al­most not real, see­ing places you have fond mem­o­ries of and ter­ri­ble things hap­pen­ing there. Def­i­nitely had those mo­ments. Not good.

“I have a lot of friends there still. It def­i­nitely hits close to home. We’ve talked about how aw­ful it was.” From a hockey stand­point, Brent Ur­ban lives and works in Washington Cap­i­tals coun­try. Or at least a short drive’s north in Greater Bal­ti­more. Has Ur­ban — him­self a rep hockey player from Mis­sis­sauga, Ont., as a kid — be­come a Caps fan now? Not on your life. You can take a boy out of the Toronto area, but the Toronto Maple Leafs fan stays in him. “Oh, no ques­tion. No ques­tion,” Ur­ban said. “I def­i­nitely miss the game a lit­tle bit from time to time. But I keep up with my Leafs on TV dur­ing the sea­son. The game is still close to my heart. “I even made it down there for one of the Leafs’ play­off games down in D.C. in the spring. I had my Leafs jersey on and ev­ery­thing. So, yeah, still a big Leafs fan.”

JOHN KRYK/ POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Brent Ur­ban orig­i­nally wanted to play hockey, but the 6-foot-7, 300-pounder found he was bet­ter-suited to play­ing football. This is a con­tract year for the Bal­ti­more de­fen­sive end. BO LOKOMBO

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