John Urschel's diary: Road to the NFL draft

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Penn State offensive lineman John Urschel will routinely provide a look at his journey leading to the NFL draft on May 8 in a series of diary entries. The all-Big Ten, third-team AP All-American has a Master's degree in math and was awarded the William V. Campbell Trophy as college football's top scholar-athlete. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound guard's third entry gives a look at his return home to State College, Pa., after almost two months away to prepare for the combine.


I arrived back to Penn State the Sunday after the combine. After a long four days of being examined both mentally and physically, I welcomed the relief granted from lying in my own bed. I had put in countless hours into training for those four days, and I was pleased to have performed well. But, I have found that one of the greatest keys to success is to not dwell on the past. After a long-deserved day of sleep, I began preparing my training regimen for the upcoming six weeks in anticipation of my pro day on April 8.


While training is something I am used to, I have found it extremely tough to maintain my diet regimen since coming home. This is not to say that I have let myself go and found a permanent home at the local fast food joint. Rather, I forgot how tedious making your own meals can be. And this doesn't even include the shopping and cleanup. I have come to realize this NFL gig needs to work out, because I am not cut out to be a chef. My diet now mainly consists of lean meats (chicken, fish) and healthy starches (brown rice, quinoa, potatoes). My most recent creation was honey grilled salmon with edamame.


As far as training, I am lifting and running four days a week with rest days on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In addition, I am taking part in MMA cross-training during the week to help with coordination, footwork, muscle endurance, and conditioning. I am working with MMA specialist Bruce Lombard, who runs a cross-training program for collegiate and professional football players called MMAFx. These workouts are no joke. I am constantly punching and moving for five grueling 3-minute rounds.

In addition to the training, I have kept up with taking care of my body. I stretch and roll out daily, and often find myself in the cold tub. I have hooked back up with my massage therapist, Lydia Moore. During the fall, we would receive massages during the week to keep us fresh throughout the season. I believed this to be one of the biggest reasons why I felt so healthy even late into the season. We meet twice a week for an hour a piece. She is only 110 pounds, but she still manages to beat me up pretty good.


One of the biggest benefits of being home in State College is seeing my friends. I got to catch up with old teammates, and even met some new faces in the Penn State football family. Coach James Franklin and I chatted, and I couldn't help but feel the program has been left in good hands. My best friend and former center Ty Howle has quickly transitioned from playing football to working in the recruiting office of the football building. I make fun of him for his clean haircut and khakis, but it serves as a reminder that we all have to grow up at some point. It reinforces the idea that I am a professional now, but I keep in mind how blessed I am to be able to continue to play the sport I love. Not everyone is so lucky.

The most exciting thing about finishing the combine is that I am no longer training like a track athlete. I am once again a football player, and now am focused on doing all I can to ensure that I am prepared for my pro day. The biggest challenge I will face is the 15 minutes of position work scouts put us through. It is physically exhausting and tests your mental toughness. It is my goal between now and the pro day to be in the best shape of my life. However, I am enjoying the process and taking great joy in being a professional athlete. I get to do what others would do for fun (workout and play football) for a living.


Follow John Urschel at

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