« Football 2013

John Urschel

Penn State
Offensive Guard


A two-time Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, Urschel earned first team Academic All-American honors in 2012. The fifth-year player earned his bachelor’s in Mathematics in three years, completed his masters in mathematics in 2013 and is currently working on a second master’s degree in math education. He has earned a 4.0 GPA throughout his Penn State career.

On top of teaching a section of mathematics on the Penn State University Park campus during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years, Urschel has also seen his work published. In 2012, a paper written by Urschel titled “Instabilities of the Sun-Jupiter-Asteroid Three Body Problem” was published in the journal, Celestial Mechanics and Dynamic Astronomy. He is also currently working on another paper that he hopes to have published based on the basics of graph theory.

He is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, was Penn State’s 2013 Big Ten Medal of Honor male recipient, has earned the Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award, which is presented annually to the top Penn State male student-athlete. In 2012, he served as the student marshal for the mathematics graduates at Spring Commencement.


Urschel represented the 36 players in attendance by speaking to the 1,800 attendees at the 2013 Big Ten Kickoff luncheon and eloquently laid out four items that he wished for all college student-athletes. Those were: master your craft in your sport, make a mark in the community, help young players along their journey and prepare for the day when your football career ends.

These are things that Urschel preaches and performs every day. He is a tireless worker in the weight room, in the locker room and on the field. The senior is an active member of the community and engages his younger teammates to help them grow on the field and in the classroom. His preparations for life after football include a bachelor’s and master’s degree already complete, a second master’s in the works and aspirations of a PhD. in mathematics once his football career is complete.

He also aids his fellow students in the mathematics work, helping undergrads with the basics of graph theory which will help them prepare for graduate research during this past summer.


Engaging and focused in every task he approaches, Urschel is one of the most active members of the Nittany Lions roster in the community. On top of participating in the Penn State Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life, as even that raised nearly $500,000 over the last four years for the Kidney Cancer Association, Urschel also has volunteered at the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) Make-A-Wish event, the THON pep rally, the Special Olympics Pennsylvania State Summer Games (five years) and participated in the Relay for Life in State College.

In the academic community, Urschel taught a section of Math 041 – Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry during the 2013 Spring semester and is teaching a section of Math 230 - Integral Vector Calculus during the 2013 Fall semester.


Urschel has played in 32 straight games and has started 19 consecutive games at right guard, earning first team All-Big Ten honors in 2012. He has helped pave the way for three straight 1,000-yard rushers and blocked for 3,000-yard passer Matt McGloin during the Lions’ 8-4 campaign in 2012.

This season, Urschel anchors the offensive line that protects one of the nation’s top passers in true freshman Christian Hackenberg and opens running lanes for a trio of running backs that have each topped the 100-yard mark in a game this season.  He has helped the Nittany Lions passing game accumulate 283.7 yards per game, which ranks second in the Big Ten, and has protected Hackenberg, who leads the Big Ten in passing completions and passing yards. The offense produces 440.8 yards per game of total offense and own a 91 percent conversion rate in the red zone.

In 2012, Urschel was a mainstay on the offensive line that helped Penn State lead the Big Ten in total offense in conference games and rank second in scoring and passing yardage in Big Ten games. Behind Urschel, the offense gained 500-plus yards in three Big Ten contests, including 546 yards vs. Indiana, their highest total in a Big Ten game since 2008.

He is among the team’s top leaders in the weight room, as well, with a 500-pound squat. Head coach Bill O’Brien believes that Urschel will have an opportunity to make an NFL roster.