It's been much chronicled that the offensive attack of West Virginia football is changing.

So, what to call it now? It's been a no-huddle spread or zone-read option, but with added motion and more of an airy atmosphere what's the label now ... Urban Renewal?

OK, so that might be a little premature. Tyler Urban is as precocious as he is an impressive 6 feet, 4 inches and 240 pounds, but he is the only true freshman listed as a starter on WVU's two-deep (but don't count out free safety Robert Sands, who looks like he could average a double-double for Bob Huggins).

Urban will be on the field when Coach Bill Stewart's team chooses a tight end over an H-back (Will Johnson) or a fullback (Johnson or rookie Ryan Clarke).

Interesting that, because Urban's first game on the field for WVU will be his first at the position.

"I was a fullback and middle linebacker in high school," Urban said. "The coaching staff here before (former Coach Rich Rodriguez's staff) said I might be a defensive end."

Yet, the suburban Pittsburgher backed off a commitment to Maryland, first, because Stewart was going to be his position coach under the old regime. Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the Fiesta Bowl.

"I watched the game, yes, and I could see there were a few little things different about the offense already then," Urban said. "When Coach (Jeff) Mullen (new offensive coordinator) got here, he told me the tight end was going to get the ball a lot more."

A little more would be a lot more. No tight end has caught a pass for WVU since Josh Bailey and Mike Villagrana combined for three in 2005.

No WVU tight end has scored a touchdown since 2007 senior Villagrana caught a 2-yard scoring pass on Oct. 1, 2005 in a home loss to third-ranked Virginia Tech - so long ago it was the Mountaineers' last non-conference defeat (13 wins ago).]

It also was the only catch of Villagrana's career.

The position might as well have been called "tight tackle." Rodriguez mostly employed tight ends like Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs did in his double-TE "Jumbo" set with the NFL Redskins.

That said, it's likely Urban is with WVU because of the old staff. Although Urban was committed to the Terrapins, former WVU secondary coach and recruiting coordinator Tony Gibson kept in touch weekly.

Nothing nefarious, Urban said, just a Gibson greeting call. The Boone County native just kept reminding him the Mountaineers still were interested.

Urban liked Stewart. And when a Terp staff change left Maryland without Urban's recruiting contact, Urban reopened the door.

"Once the new staff came in, I was a lot more comfortable about West Virginia," said Urban, who then committed to WVU after Stewart and assistants Jeff Casteel and Steve Dunlap drove through a January snowstorm to watch him in a basketball practice at North Huntingdon (Pa.) High. "I really liked Coach Stew before.

"When he got the job, it did make a difference. I committed to them that night."

Urban said Stewart told him he could play a lot early, but the player wasn't sure. It hadn't been that long before that the old WVU staff was telling Urban he might become a defensive end in the 3-3-5 stack if he gained a few pounds.

"It's a lot faster than I'd imagined," he said. "In practice, you've got to know where to go. I had to learn the proper footwork. The footsteps are important. I've never run pass routes before, but I can catch the ball and I can block."

Well, that's one more thing than recent West Virginia tight ends were asked to do.

"Tyler Urban is going to be special," Stewart said. "He's a big kid and he's going to do big things."

In Mullen's scheme that tweaks the ground-based attack to which WVU fans are accustomed, Urban has found himself in the backfield, on the line and in the slot.

"They were saying I'd play pretty soon," Urban said.

Yeah, Villagrana probably wishes he could catch passes against Villanova.


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