It’s not unusual for star athletes to try to motivate students, but John Urschel, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, is different. The Penn State graduate is working on a doctorate in math at MIT. He loves math.
At a Maryland high school, Urschel told summer school students that he uses quantitative thinking to guard against pass rushes, reports the Baltimore Sun.
He asked incoming ninth graders to figure out the best angle for a kicker to launch a field goal try. When they struggled with the problem, he told them to keep at it.
He recalled revising four different mistakes on the same proof — in his junior year of college, on his master’s thesis and twice in writing it for publication — before he corrected it and published it as the Urschel-Zikatanov bisection.
“People mess up,” Urschel told the class. “People get things wrong. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid. It’s just a learning process. That’s how it goes.”
When he retires from the NFL, Urschel hopes to be a math professor, teaching students and solving “really cool” puzzles.