Urschel remains undistracted by popularity

Penn State guard John Urschel. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

John Urschel’s 6-foot-3, 301-pound frame is at Bill O’Brien’s disposal to use on the offensive line, but Urschel wants his coach to know his brain is just as useful a tool. 

Against Michigan on Oct. 12, Urschel quickly calculated the amount of time Penn State would have left to score a game-tying touchdown if the Lions’ defense stopped the Wolverines. 

He said he hasn’t been asked by the coaching staff to contribute calculations toward how a live game will play out.

“Don’t they have a manual for coaches when to go for one and when to go for two? I’m sure they could come over and just ask me if they’d like. You can tell coach OB that,” Urschel said, jokingly. 

The redshirt senior guard has gained massive popularity — more than usual for a lineman — over the last couple of years due to his mathematical prowess. He earned his bachelor’s degree in three years with a perfect 4.0 GPA, and his master’s degree last year. Urschel has also published an academic article in the field, and he has taught undergraduate math courses. 

That popularity expanded beyond Happy Valley on Monday, when Fox Sports Live named him their Best Person In Sports. 

“I got a few tweets on my phone about it,” Urschel said. “It’s honestly an honor, I guess? You want to call me the best person in sports, go ahead. It was yesterday, I am no longer the best person in sports today.”

Urschel’s not letting fame get to his head as Penn State prepares for Ohio State this weekend, or as he prepares for a possible future in the NFL. Regardless of if and how long that works out, Urschel certainly has a strong resume to fall back on.  

“I’m not used to being on the cover of magazines,” he said. “I kept doing what I always do. I focused on football, do the things that got me here, simple as that.”