Former Canadian offensive lineman John Urschel appears to be doing well in retirement as he was recently hired as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The Winnipeg native earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Penn State University while playing football for the Nittany Lions. He won the William V. Campbell Trophy during his tenure in college, which is awarded annually to the NCAA football player with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance. It is colloquially referred to as the “Academic Heisman” award.
Urschel was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens and played three seasons with the team, dressing for 40 games with 13 starts. He retired following the 2016 season at the age of 26, reportedly due in part to the growing concerns regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy associated with professional football players.
The 32-year-old completed a PhD in mathematics at MIT in 2021. He has now returned to the school as a professor following stints with the Institute for Advanced Study and serving as a junior fellow at Harvard University. He has also published or co-published over a dozen academic papers and co-authored his autobiography alongside his wife, Louisa Thomas, in 2019, entitled Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football.
According to his MIT biography, Urschel “is a mathematician focused on matrix analysis and computations, with an emphasis on theoretical results and provable guarantees for practical problems. His research interests include numerical linear algebra, spectral graph theory, and topics in theoretical machine learning.”