John Urschel started off with a joke and exited the stage to a standing ovation. Speaking on behalf of the players at the 42nd annual Big Ten Kickoff luncheon, the All-Big Ten right guard and 4.0 mathematics student encouraged fellow players to maximize their time as student-athletes and to not let the privilege go to waste.
“I took a course in public speaking my sophomore year but unfortunately it was online,” joked Urschel as he began his speech.
From there, he got down to business focusing on four key points:
1. Master your craft as a football player – Urschel encouraged players to avoid complacency during their careers on the field. If people fail, laziness should not be a reason why.
“Our goal should be to become the best football player we can be while getting our degrees. To do anything less is nothing short of a waste of a privilege we have been afforded.”
“Consider ourselves lucky to represent universities I know I’m honored to represent Penn State.”
2. Make your mark on the community – This part focused on encouraging players to reverse the narrative that football players are always getting into trouble off the field and demonstrate that those headlines are a small minority.
“I truly believe in leaving this world better than you found it.”
“I don’t believe this to be a Penn State phenomenon. The Big Ten has a history of producing great character both on and off the field. This begs the question how to keep it this way.”
3. Help young players that follow in our footsteps – Urschel transitioned from community outreach to setting examples for younger athletes who watch and look up to them.
“As we near the conclusion of our collegiate careers, we cannot forget to bring the next generation along.”
“We must be the role models for young players. We must assure that the tradition of this conference and this game goes on.”
4. Plan for life the day your career ends – Whether players stop playing immediately after college or have a long NFL career, they will still ultimately retire from football at a relatively young age. Urschel strived to remind players that there is more to life than football and the world goes on once careers end.
“In each one of us lies a great talent beyond the gridiron. Our whole is greater than sum of our parts.”
When Urschel’s Penn State athletic career ends following the 2013 season, he will have several options regarding what’s next for him.
One of those choices will include playing in the National Football League.
“I think we forget sometimes that he’s a helluva a football player in addition to being a great student,” said Bill O’Brien Wednesday afternoon.
Also speaking to assembled media on Wednesday, Urschel said he wants to play professional football. He is also working on three research papers at the moment. While he declined to discuss specific details about the content of the papers, he wants to get at least one published before his academic career at Penn State comes to an end.
Last year, he had a 32-page paper titled “Instabilities in the Sun-Jupiter-Asteroid Three Body Problem” published in the journal “Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy.”
Said Big Ten Network broadcaster Dave Revsine after Urschel finished his speech to a standing ovation, “Rest assured, I’m sure whatever that guy does he will be successful.”