Massive tackle Urban in tune with Virginia defense

Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 10:36 p.m.

Here's some advice for Pitt center Artie Rowell when he lines up Saturday against Virginia defensive tackle Brent Urban.

Those words on Urban's massive left forearm? Those aren't part of the Virginia game plan for its ACC clash with Pitt at Heinz Field.

Actually, it's the 45-word epitaph written for Duane Allman, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band who died in a 1971 motorcycle accident. Along with the tattoo is a rendering of songwriter Les Paul's guitar.

Urban is such a fan of the Allman Brothers that he spent 10 hours in a tattoo parlor memoralizing the band on his arm.

It's that arm — and Urban's other one — that Rowell and guards Cory King and Matt Rotheram must keep under control. Urban, a 6-foot-7, 295-pound tackle, is the FBS leader in pass breakups (five) among defensive linemen, tied with Missouri's Kony Ealy. Urban and offensive tackle Morgan Moses are Virginia's top prospects for the NFL Draft.

“You don't see that too often,” said Rowell, referring to Urban's height, not his musical tastes. “Especially at nose tackle, you get maybe shorter guys who are a little bit heavier.”

“We're going to practice on stilts,” offensive line coach Jim Hueber said.

Urban, a native of Mississauga, Ontario, was the 15th overall selection in this year's Canadian Football League draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He chose to return to college, and his presence has helped Virginia become one of the top pass defenses in the ACC.

Virginia (2-1, 0-0) is tied with Baylor for the most three-and-outs in the nation (25) and is fourth in third-down conversion defense (22.4 percent).

And where Pitt has been strong — in the passing game — Virginia has the defense to counteract quarterback Tom Savage's arm. The Cavaliers are No. 2 in the nation in pass efficiency defense, allowing a passer rating of only 80.2.

Sophomore defensive end Eli Harold, who is No. 11 in the nation in sacks (1.0 per game), gives part of the credit to Urban.

“He draws so much attention because he is so big and athletic and he frees me up a lot, and I free him up a lot,” Harold said.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst said the Virginia defense is more than Urban.

“He's a good player, he's got a good motor, but we have to pay attention to all of them.”

Notes: Chryst said middle linebacker Shane Gordon, who has an unspecified injury, is all but out for the game. “We'll see,” Chryst said. Matt Galambos would start in Gordon's place, giving Pitt three freshmen in the starting lineup. ... Also, center Gabe Roberts (unspecified) and defensive back Cullen Christiain (foot) are not expected to play. ... Defensive end Bryan Murphy (ankle), who didn't play last week, is on a “wait-and-see” watch, according to the coach. ... Former Pitt coach Johnny Majors, a member of the College Football and National Football Foundation Halls of Fame, will be one of five members of the ACC's 2013 Class of Legends for the Dr Pepper Football Championship Game on Dec. 7 in Charlotte, N.C.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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