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The Caw: Brent Urban Almost Played Hockey Instead


If Brent Urban was willing to be more of a goon, he might be in the NHL right now instead of the NFL.

The Ravens drafted Urban in the fourth round of this year's draft, but it's startling just how close he came to chasing his hockey dreams.

"I was fairly close [to sticking with hockey]. I love the game of hockey," Urban said.

Urban is from Misssissauga, Ontario in Canada, just southwest of Toronto. It's one of the biggest hockey towns in North America. The city has its own hockey league, which tells you a little about its hockey devotion.

Urban was basically born with a hockey stick in his hands, and his size advantage didn't hurt either.

When he was playing tyke hockey at age 7, Urban was 5 feet tall and weighed 85 pounds. He netted 100 goals and added 100 assists that season.

When he was 15 years old, Urban played on the 2006 AAA Mississauga Ice Dogs team that won the Ontario bantam championship. It's no kiddie hockey team.

Urban played alongside four future NHL draftees on that squad: Ryan Ellis (Nashville Predators), Casey Cizikas (New York Islanders), Jamie Devane (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Ben Chiarot (Atlanta Thrashers).

"We were one of the best in the world, basically, at our age," Urban said.

So does Urban think he could have been drafted like those other guys?

"Yeah, potentially. Jamie, he got drafted in the second round and we played on the same line. And he was a big guy kind of like me, so we were similar players," Urban said.

"I would have gotten a decent shot, but I think a lot of coaches would want me to be just a fighter or something. In hockey, if you're big like that, they really want you to be a fighter. I like scoring goals and stuff, so I didn't want them to categorize me just because of my size."

Urban quit hockey when he was 16 years old and already 6-foot-6, 260 pounds. It was only then that he started playing football.

"I grew up watching the NFL," he said. "Right around 11th grade, I felt like it was a better fit as far as my size and stuff like that. Football is a big man's game and it definitely lends itself towards my skill set."

While it's impossible to know exactly how far Urban would have made it in hockey, the football decision has definitely worked out.

Urban got a scholarship to Virginia, was drafted in the second round by the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013, and ultimately by the Ravens in the fourth round a year later. Urban was the first Canadian taken in this year's draft. Before him, only 25 Canadians had ever been drafted into the NFL.

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