Charlottesville ‘was horrible’
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.”
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