Photo by Matthew Claybrook
Jerheme Urban, now in his sixth season as head coach of the Trinity Tigers football team, was just inducted into the Trinity University Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of the 2019 class of inductees. Urban followed up his Trinity career in track & field and football with nine seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He discusses his playing career, his Trinity Hall of Fame induction and more about his life in this edition of Coach’s Corner.
Coming to play at a small Division III school like Trinity, did you expect to make it to the NFL?
My goal as a little kid was to grow up and play NFL football. It was a childhood dream that I think is maybe the same dream as a lot of people out there, but I was mentored by some older guys from my hometown that went to a Division I school as walk-ons and never felt like they got invested in to develop their skills to see what really could happen. They told me if I could go to a place like Trinity and get a great degree and get a chance to be on a level playing field with everyone — you know we’re all here on the same non-athletic scholarship right — to look it up and just to go play football, so I came and grew into my body and worked really hard to try and achieve my dream, and it just happened.
Why did you decide to come back and coach at Trinity?
This is my family away from home. I’m the first one in my family to go to college right out of [high] school and to get a degree. My sister and brother followed me to Trinity. I met my wife here running track together. Her sister followed her here. We both had cousins follow us from as far away as New Jersey and my sister-in-law married a Trinity guy, so you know, we’re as deep into the Trinity maroon as it comes.
What was it like getting inducted into the Trinity University Athletic Hall of Fame during halftime of the game on Oct. 5 before having to sprint to talk to the team in the locker room?
It really started soaking in more from my perspective Saturday night after the big win, [when I was] able to kind of relax a little bit. I don’t think I’d really let it sink in yet leading up to that moment … I challenged our players all week and on Friday night in our team meeting to not let the festivities of the weekend and former teammates coming back to distract them. We needed them fully planted on the field focusing solely on winning that football game. That was my mentality, too, so the halftime ceremony was awesome, but I needed to get back into the locker room because what I ask my players to do I need to commit to as well, and I needed to be in there and get ready to win the second half.
If you got the chance to start an NFL franchise from scratch, what player would you choose to build around?
Right now that would be a toss-up between — you’d have to say Patrick Mahomes, but Quenton Nelson, left guard for the Indianapolis Colts, is a really, really special player. When you can protect a quarterback, and you can run the football and help him out, that makes their job a lot easier. If I had to pick, right now it would probably be Mahomes with Nelson as a close second. You cannot overvalue those guys up front when they’re that special, [but] you have a once-in-a-generation talent like Patrick Mahomes who has proven to be more than a flash in the pan. That’d be pretty hard to steer away from him as well.
What three guests, past or present, would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I would probably invite my paternal grandfather. He and I were close growing up and later in life I realized how many opportunities I missed to kind of chronicle his life. [He was] a World War II veteran, lived through the [Great] Depression, came back from the war, got married and had three kids and carried on a family construction company that was 90 years old from when his great-grandfather came over from Germany. I think I missed a lot of time with him in terms of learning our family history, picking his brain.
I would love to have dinner with Bill Belichick and pick his mind. He does such a great job of just teaching life along with football and interweaving a ton of world history in to the way he teaches. I wanted to be a history teacher and coach high school football, so what better way of talking to somebody who does that every single day. Obviously he’s meticulous in his preparation and has won a few football games, so I think that would be pretty cool.
So we have granddad and Bill Belichick. Those two are pretty serious, so let’s go with someone more relaxed; let’s go with Chevy Chase. Huge fan of Vegas Vacation, all the National Lampoon’s favorites, huge Fletch Lives fan all the way back to the Saturday Night Live days.
If you could tell the world one thing about yourself, what would you say?
I am fiercely loyal, whether that’s with my family or my team. To me, I’m going to do everything I can to protect our family here at Trinity with the football family [and] same thing at home.