Brent Urban glad to contribute to Ravens’ defense
OWINGS MILLS, Md. | Baltimore Ravens defensive end Brent Urban grew up playing hockey near Toronto and was good enough to see time for a top junior club, with future NHL players Ryan Ellis (Nashville) and Casey Cizikas (New York Islanders) as teammates.
But as a freshman at Lorne Park Secondary in Ontario, Urban met the school’s football coach.
“He was badgering me to play,” Urban said. “My dad said with my size I might have fun playing football.”
For the next two years, Urban’s father shuttled him between hockey and football practices before the youngster settled on the gridiron. He played at the University of Virginia and is now in his fifth year on the Ravens’ defensive line.
Standing at 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, Urban, 27, said he thinks in retrospect that he chose the right sport.
“Hockey has turned into more of a finesse game, where big guys and fighting is not as big,” Urban said. “I am happy I made the choice.”
So is Baltimore, a team whose persona is predicated on defensive toughness. The Ravens (3-2) sacked rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield five times and held Cleveland to just one touchdown Sunday. But the Browns won 12-9 in overtime on a 37-yard field goal by Greg Joseph.
“Baker is a great talent,” Urban said before the game. “He is a playmaker back there. He runs around back there and makes time for himself.”
Urban is just glad to be contributing after an injury-shortened 2017.
His road to the NFL began after high school, when Urban attracted attention from several Division I schools, including Maryland and North Carolina.
But he decided to head to Virginia.
“It has good academics and a rich history with linemen going to the NFL,” Urban said. “I liked Al Groh a lot,” Urban said of the Cavaliers’ coach from 2001-09. “They were successful the year before. (Philadelphia Eagles defensive end) Chris Long had gone there.”
Urban was drafted in the fourth round by the Ravens in 2014. Chris Canty, a former Virginia star who played for Baltimore from 2013-15, was one of the veterans who nurtured him.
“We played the same position,” Urban said. “He was a great leader, a great veteran who helped me get through some things. He was a great guy to learn from.”
Urban didn’t get on the field as a rookie, and then came off the bench in six games in 2015. He played in all 16 games as a reserve in 2016, and then started the first three games last season before missing the rest of the year with a foot injury.
This season, he’s started in all five Ravens games. He has four six total tackles, two for loss.
“Coming off the injury, training camp was hard for me to get into the swing of things,” he said. “Personally I am feeling really well. I am back to where I was last year.”