‘Super-competitive’ Shurmur ready to win at next level

Friday, March 29, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 13
By Tom Wood

Draftville basics

When: April 25-27

First round: April 25, 7 p.m.

Rounds 2-3: April 26, 6 p.m.

Rounds 4-7: April 27, 1 p.m.

On the clock: Teams have 10 minutes to make first-round selections, seven minutes for Round 2, five minutes for Rounds 3-6 and four minutes for Round 7.

Television: ABC (WKRN-Ch. 2), NFL Network, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes; streaming available via NFL and ESPN apps.

Street closures: Some begin April 5 on First Avenue, from Demonbreun to Church Streets and on Broadway from First to Second avenues. More closures TBA.

He might not be the most-talented player in this year’s NFL draft class, but former Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur is certainly among the most competitive. And that attribute gives him a chance to succeed at the next level where others may come up short.

That competitive drive also earned him nearly every passing record in four years as the Commodores’ starter, as well as recognition in the classroom.

Shurmur graduated from Vanderbilt in December in just three and a half years with a degree in economics, and in his final season he was a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation’s Campbell Trophy to recognize the nation’s top scholar-athletes.

While he’s got the size (6-4, 230), the pedigree (his father Pat is coach of the New York Giants) and talent, it’s those unmeasurable things – heart, commitment, attitude and a “cerebral” reputation – that will give Shurmur his best chance to make an NFL roster.

“I come from a great family of great people, and I think my parents have preached commitment and love for each other and whatever you’re doing,” Kyle Shurmur says. “I think that I’m a student of the game and I play hard. Everything I do, I feel as if I fully commit to it and I play hard, so that’s the way it is.”

Lifetime of training

Talk to Shurmur for just a few minutes and you quickly understand where he’s from and where he’s headed. He looks to the future but is totally focused on the present. Taking care of today paves the way for tomorrow.

Credit his parents for shaping that drive. Both were elite athletes at Michigan State, Jennifer a swimmer and Pat a center on the football team. But Jennifer says that it was self-motivation that’s gotten her son as far as he has.

Find your way around Draftville

Downtown Nashville will have several hot spots for NFL fans. Fortunately, admission will be free to all events

Draft Red Carpet at The Green at Riverfront Park

Draft Theatre at the Main Stage, First and Broadway, where draft selections will be announced and players introduced; also where A-list artists Tim McGraw and Dierks Bentley will perform free pre-draft concerts. CeeCee Winans will sing the national anthem before the first round begins.

Selection Square at Schermerhorn Symphony Center, where teams will make their selections.

NFL Draft experience outside Nissan Stadium operating April 25-26, noon-10 p.m. and April 27, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Things to do: Autograph stage for current stars and NFL legends, interactive games, photo op with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, NFL shop, tailgating and a music stage. Announced acts include country/rock “Nashville” TV show star Charles Esten, alternative country/Americana artist Rayland Baxter, pop and indie rock artist Mikky Ekko, and country singer-songwriter Charlie Worsham.

“I’ve always known that Kyle is a super-competitive athlete from when he was younger, swimming. And throughout his career he’s always been super-competitive and disciplined, and always wanted to be the best that he could be,” Jennifer says.

Shurmur credits Vanderbilt for refining the values his parents taught him. At an academic school, competition in the classroom can be as brutal as it is on the football field. In fact, he credits the Monday-Friday academic challenges for keeping him sharp for games on Saturdays.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he adds. “Every time we’re on campus we’re competing, whether it’s against the students at Vanderbilt here and obviously on the football field. So, you always competing and you’re always working hard, preparing, and you’ve got to perform academically and athletically.”

And he says that will give him an edge in whatever NFL camp he finds himself in this fall. He will find out his pro football destination either in the April 25-27 draft in downtown Nashville or as an undrafted free agent.

“You need to be smart to play quarterback. You need to know what’s going on, you need to prepare hard and school here kept me sharp mentally,” Shurmur continues. “I think it’s a challenge going to school here. I felt like school obviously helped me a lot and kept me sharp, and I think it’s really important to be a smart player.”

Bright future ahead

Vanderbilt Coach Derek Mason sees great things ahead for Shurmur, saying he will succeed in the game of life, not just pro football.

“You take away all the other things – you take away the football and you take away the academics – and I think you strip it down to his core values, and then I think he’s a person who’s driven to be the best he can be,” Mason says.

“For him, it’s always about trying to be his best self. And I think both mom and dad did a really good job of letting Kyle be Kyle, not trying to live up to anybody else’s expectations. But he’s driven.”

Jennifer says neither she nor her husband pressured Kyle to do one thing or another, though she admitted that she could be critical at times of his performances.

“That is true,” she acknowledges. “Sometimes you’ve got to tell your children what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. I felt that my role as their mother (was that) sometimes I needed to tell them what they needed to hear at times.

“We taught our kids when they were younger that they had to have the drive, and that you can’t force somebody to be committed to compete at that level. That’s got to come from within.

“And I think that’s what we tried to instill not only athletically but academically, just who they were as people. We wanted our kids to be hard workers and self-motivated because that’s what it really takes to be super-successful in the classroom and on the football field.”

The First Round

Round 1 draft order as of March 22

1. Arizona Cardinals
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New York Jets
4. Oakland Raiders
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. New York Giants
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Detroit Lions
9. Buffalo Bills
10. Denver Broncos
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Green Bay Packers
13. Miami Dolphins
14. Atlanta Falcons
15. Washington Redskins
16. Carolina Panthers
17. N.Y. Giants from Cleveland Browns
18. Minnesota Vikings
19. Tennessee Titans
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. Seattle Seahawks
22. Baltimore Ravens
23. Houston Texans
24. Oakland Raiders from Chicago Bears
25. Philadelphia Eagles
26. Indianapolis Colts
27. Oakland Raiders from Dallas Cowboys
28. Los Angeles Chargers
29. Kansas City Chiefs
30. Green Bay Packers from New Orleans Saints
31. Los Angeles Rams
32. New England Patriots

Shurmur took those lessons and ran with them. And passed with them, too.

“I feel as if I’ve always been taught growing up, ‘if you’re going to do something, you’re going to commit to it.’ Anything I do, I want to be committed and focused to it.”

100 percent commitment

Both Mason and Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Gerry Gdowski say Shurmur’s fervor for the program showed in every aspect of his game.

“He was a leader in every sense of the word,’’ Mason says. “He took responsibility for the things that he got done and worked harder to make sure that he could move the needle from where he was to where he knew he needed to be and his teammates needed to be. And I think what you saw in his time here was reminiscent of somebody who took control of the position early and never really gave it back.’’

“Kyle’s just a great person. I think he’s a great teammate,” Gdowski adds. “He’s done a lot of things in his time here, obviously on the field where he holds every record and stuff that he probably could here, but if you talk to any of his teammates, if you talk to anybody he comes in contact with, he just treats people the right way and does things the right way. Whether it’s on the field or off the field, that’s just the type person he is.

“Just knowing Kyle, he’ll do everything he needs to do (to make an NFL roster). A lot of it is going to be finding that one or two teams that are really interested and understands the type of person he is and what he can bring to the table, and get an opportunity. I think (if) he gets in the door, he’ll have a great chance to stick around a while.”

Mason foresees a bright future for Shurmur, both on and off the field.

“Kyle’s going to go on to do great things. Football is what he does, not who he is,” Mason continues. “At the end of the day, his skill set goes far beyond football – but football is his passion.

“He’ll have a chance to impact a football team, but his impact on Vanderbilt University has already been felt, and I think it’s going to be felt in the near future as he looks to go on and play. But really, once after football is done, I think he’s going to find a way to be his best self. And that’s gonna lend itself to greatness wherever it is. So, I’m thankful that I’ve had Kyle Shurmur, and I think he’s going to do well.”

He’ll be back

For his part, Shurmur says his days at Vanderbilt are not done. He’s all-in on football for now, but there’s a reason why he majored in economics.

“I definitely want to go back to school here, get my MBA or finance master’s or something, but like I said, I want to be committed to what’s at hand,” he says.

“You know, be present. Right now, that’s football, you know, trying to work toward an opportunity in the NFL, so that’s what I’m trying to do right now and then … I have an idea, but at the same time I really want to focus on what’s at hand right now.”

Mason notes conversations about the future “an everyday occurrence” with Shurmur.

“Football right now is his focus. Kyle is one of those guys who takes advantage of what’s in front of him. He’s attacked school, so now he’s a graduate and he can focus on football,” Mason adds. “I think he’s going to do that, and he’ll get a chance to play. Once that’s done, he’ll always have an out. He’ll always have a plan.

“I know he’s going to be successful at whatever he does, but you know, when he does decide to transition it’ll be a smooth transition,” Mason says. “It won’t be a transition where he’s having to guess at what he’s doing, he’ll have a clear path and a clear idea of what next.”

There’s been a lot of speculation about where Shurmur will end up playing, and if he could someday be playing for his father’s team. Jennifer says Kyle “absolutely” understands that the only way he’ll earn an NFL job is strictly on his own merits, not because of who his father is and what Pat has accomplished in his career.

“We’ve absolutely had that conversation, and I think, just as he moved from high school to college and (from) college to the pros, it takes hard work, it takes, you know, we say taking care of your business, which means stay out of trouble, work hard, be prepared, just everything you’ve moved along in your career or whatever,” Jennifer adds.

“You just have to be prepared and work hard. And good things happen to good people, and you have to be good, too, along the way.”