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VIDEO: Urschel at the Head of the Class

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Jan. 28, 2013

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nittany Lion football guard John Urschel has been nothing short of perfect in the classroom since he walked onto the University Park campus.

Urschel, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors on the field in 2012, has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average since he arrived at Penn State. He graduated in three years with a degree in mathematics before embarking on grad school.

The Williamsville, N.Y. native had a paper published online and in the print journal, Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy. The paper is 32 pages and titled "Instabilities of the Sun-Jupiter-Asteroid Three Body Problem".

This semester, Urschel has taken things one step further and is now teaching a section of an undergraduate math class. Urschel is an instructor for Math 041, which is a course in Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:05 to 9:55 a.m. sat in on Urschel's lecture on Friday, which highlighted the differences between even and odd functions and how to graph them. The class, which has 31 students enrolled in it, is the final step before calculus courses in the math department.

Urschel used the blackboard and chalk for his lecture, and he worked from prepared handwritten notes. The Nittany Lion guard kept a two-way dialogue between the students for the entire duration of the class period. When he wrote something on the board, Urschel challenged the class to help him finish each problem before he moved on to the next problem.

At one point, Urschel joked, "You guys are too smart for me," as one student verbally completed a graph on the blackboard before Urschel had time to finish writing it.

What adds another dimension to Urschel's spring semester are his football responsibilities, including early-morning workouts with strength coach Craig Fitzgerald as the Nittany Lions prepare for the 2013 season. Take Friday as an example. Urschel participated in the full team run and lifting session from 5:30 a.m. until 7:15 a.m. before walking to his 9:05 a.m. class at Bouke Building.



At the end of Friday's class period, Urschel reminded his students to complete the online quiz before the end of the night, and he told the students he would not be available for his normally scheduled office hours on Friday afternoon.


Urschel was on his way back to the heart of campus to participate in a math seminar immediately after his class ended.

Without knowing the schedules of every football student-athlete across the country, it's hard to imagine many with a routine like Urschel's on Friday.

Teaching the math course is like second nature to Urschel. He was in his element at the front of the classroom. While he is essentially the perfect student, Urschel's future on the gridiron is incredibly bright, too.

"After that workout, everything else is cake. This is just math," Urschel joked after finishing Friday's class.


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