|Born:||June 24, 1991|
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||300 lb (136 kg)|
|High school:||Buffalo (NY) Canisius|
|NFL Draft:||2014 / Round: 5 / Pick: 175|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
John Cameron Urschel (born June 24, 1991) is a Canadian-American mathematician, former professional American football guard and center and chess player. He played college football at Penn State and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Urschel played his entire NFL career with Baltimore before announcing his retirement on July 27, 2017, at 26 years old.
Urschel has bachelor's and master's degrees (both from Penn State) and a doctorate (from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), all in mathematics. He has published peer-reviewed articles in mathematics. Urschel is also an advanced stats columnist for The Players' Tribune.
Urschel was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His parents, John Urschel and Venita Parker, were a surgeon and attorney, respectively. He grew up in Buffalo, New York, where he attended Canisius High School.
He earned bachelor's (2012) and master's (2013) degrees in mathematics at Pennsylvania State University. While at Penn State, he was awarded the William V. Campbell Trophy, known as the "academic Heisman".
|Height||Weight||Arm length||Hand span||40-yard dash||10-yard split||20-yard split||20-yard shuttle||Three-cone drill||Vertical jump||Broad jump||Bench press||Wonderlic|
|6 ft 3 in
|5.31 s||1.84 s||3.08 s||4.47 s||7.55 s||29.0 in
|8 ft 6 in
|All values from NFL Combine|
Urschel was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft with the 175th overall pick. He played in 11 games, starting three, for the Ravens in 2014. He appeared in 16 games, starting seven, for the team in 2015.
On July 27, 2017, Urschel announced his retirement from the NFL after three seasons. The Baltimore Sun reported that the JAMA study on the prevalence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in deceased players was a factor in Urschel's decision.
While doing his master's at Penn State, Urschel was involved in teaching vector calculus, trigonometry and analytic geometry, and introduction to econometrics. In 2014, Urschel was named Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholar by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. In 2015, Urschel co-authored a paper in the Journal of Computational Mathematics titled "A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians". It includes "a cascadic multigrid algorithm for fast computation of the Fiedler vector of a graph Laplacian, namely, the eigenvector corresponding to the second smallest eigenvalue."
Urschel began a Ph.D. in mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2016, focusing on spectral graph theory, numerical linear algebra, and machine learning. MIT does not allow Ph.D. students to study part-time; while the Ravens knew that he was taking classes, Urschel admitted after retiring from the team that he did not disclose that he was a full-time graduate student, having taken correspondence classes in between games and practices. On January 4, 2017, Urschel was named to Forbes' "30 Under 30" list of outstanding young scientists and owns the following blurb: "Urschel has published six peer-reviewed mathematics papers to date and has three more ready for review. He's won academic awards for his math prowess. All this while playing guard for the Baltimore Ravens."
Since 2017, Urschel has had an Erdős number of 4. His PhD thesis on Graphs, Principal Minors, and Eigenvalue Problems was completed in 2021 under Michel Goemans at MIT. He is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
Urschel competed in the 2015 Pittsburgh Open, finishing in 12th place (tied for 9th) with 3.0 points (+2-1=2) in the Under 1700 rating section. Urschel competes in competitive online chess on Chess.com, and he has commentated for Chess.com's BlitzChamps event, a rapid tournament for NFL players.
Urschel is married to writer Louisa Thomas, whom he met when she was profiling him for Grantland. In 2017, their daughter, Joanna, was born. Urschel's autobiography, Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football, was co-written by Thomas and published in 2019.
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