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John Urschel To Partner With General Electric For Mathematical Draft Analysis

The NFL Draft will have a special Penn State twist this evening. Baltimore Ravens guard and former Penn State All-Big Ten standout John Urschel will partner with General Electric to provide mathematical breakdowns of the first round of the draft over social media.

Urschel will take over GE’s Periscope, Twitter, and Snapchat accounts (all with the handle @generalelectric) and employ the #DraftScience tag to analyze each selection as they happen in real time, said Penn State alumnus and global program manager for GE’s Information Technology Program Chris Catalano. Urschel will serve as GE’s resident mathematician and draft expert for the evening, and will use each social media platform for a different purpose.

It’s all in an effort for GE to make “big data” more consumable to a large viewership, and to have some fun with math.

“When you look behind the math and draft there’s a lot of data out there,” said Tony Denhart, GE’s University Relations manager. “There’s a lot we’re doing behind big data, it’s a way to help draw some awareness and amplify how big data is important today.”

On Periscope, the new livestreaming app that allows users to witness an event from the view of another’s phone, Urschel will provide his opinions on teams’ selections immediately following the announcements. He’ll interact with fans that submit questions tagged #DraftScience on Twitter, and “will provide mathematical analysis on some of the top picks in the draft and engage GE’s social following with insights, stats, images and live commentary to bring GE to the forefront of the NFL Draft’s social media conversations,” said Catalano. On Snapchat, Urschel will further engage his followers from the GE account.

GE will also employ a series of graphics over social media that relate mathematical or big data concepts to football. For example, Denhart said to expect a calculation that estimates how quickly the speedy Alabama receiver Amari Cooper could sprint from Los Angeles to the draft’s location in New York City.

This is the first time the GE, which enjoys a significant partnership with the NFL and has worked with the league to research concussions, will team up with a player to promote math to the primetime audience.

“It was the right time, the right player with his background and with the draft going on,” Denhart said of choosing Urschel. “For some time we’ve been looking for a unique way to intersect sports and math.”

Catalano also mentioned that GE recruits heavily from Penn State helped sway the decision. “Penn State is one of our top schools that come from an engineering and IT perspective. It definitely helps when you have an athlete with such a strong relationship.”

Urschel, who enjoyed a successful first season with the Ravens, seems to also be making his own effort to combine his academic prowess with his incredibly public position as a professional athlete. He’s recently published advanced stats columns in the Player’s Tribune, and has teamed with a Penn State alumnus to create a math scholarship that benefits Baltimore-area students.

Image: The Players’ Tribune

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Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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