By Jeff White
CHARLOTTESVILLE — His college football career so far consists of a few late-game snaps in a one-sided loss to North Carolina.
Expect to see more of Brent Urban on the field for UVa in the weeks and months and years to come.
“He’s starting to come on,” said Jeff Hanson, Virginia’s defensive line coach. “I’m real excited about him.”
A 6-7, 280-pound redshirt freshman, Urban isn’t listed on the depth chart at defensive end for Virginia’s game against ACC rival Duke. He missed most of spring practice after having reconstructive knee surgery and wasn’t cleared for full participation until mid September. But he’s progressing steadily.
“To be quite honest with you, the last two weeks, he’s really come on in practice, and he’s getting ready to play,” Hanson said Tuesday night. “We just need to get him reps in practice. I’m really happy with what he’s done. He’s behind as far as pass rush, but he’s a big, physical kid, he’ s got quick hands, and I’m really happy he’s come around like he has.
“When he first got back, it took him about three to four weeks to get back into the thing, because he’d never been in spring practice but two days. He’s learned very quickly, and he’s a great kid. He’s athletic, and he’s got a chance to be a good football player one day if he keeps working at. He’s getting real close to getting to play, and depending on how he does the rest of the week at practice, he may get some playing time this weekend.”
UVa (1-3, 4-4) plays Saturday afternoon at Duke (0-4, 2-6).
Virginia’s starting defensive ends are juniors Zane Parr and Cam Johnson. Backups include sophomore Billy Schautz and redshirt freshman Jake Snyder, who has emerged as the No. 3 end.
Snyder, whose older brother, Matt, plays wideout for the Wahoos, is “a young player that’s really kind of developing into his own,” Hanson said. “I’m happy with what Jake’s done over the course of the season. Basically he didn’t get much playing time at the beginning of the season, because we just didn’t feel like he was ready to play. And now he’s come on in practice and he’s starting to rush the passer better, he’s starting to play the run better, and he gives us a solid backup in there who can spell Cam and can also spell Zane Parr.”
Depending on where Jeremiah Mathis sticks, UVa could be exceptionally deep at defensive end in 2011. Mathis, a redshirt freshman, moved to tight end last month after Joe Torchia suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
“Jeremiah is a very good athlete,” Hanson said. “I’m happy he’s worked out over there, and if they need him over there, then they need to keep him over there. This is all about team here with Coach [Mike] London, and that’s what we’re interested in.”
Urban, who’s from Mississauga, Ontario, is one of four Canadians on UVa’s roster, along with offensive guard Austin Pasztor, defensive tackle Hunter Steward and walk-on tailback Brandon Morgan. The only other Canadians playing football in the ACC are Duke’s Chris Rwabukamba and Maryland’s Michael Carter.