Former Baltimore Ravens Player Joins MIT Faculty As A Math Professor

john urcshel
JERSEY CITY, NJ – MAY 05: presenter, author of Urschel-Zikatanov Theorem John Urschel attends Genius Gala 6.0 at Liberty Science Center on May 5, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Liberty Science Center)

Former Baltimore Ravens player John Urschel has made a seamless transition from entertaining to educating.

According to a press release by the university, Urschel was recently hired as a professor of mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The former NFL player is one of 16 new faculty members who joined MIT’s School of Science for the Fall 2023 semester.

Urschel bio states that his focus area is “matrix analysis and computations, with an emphasis on theoretical results and provable guarantees for practical problems.” His research interests include numerical linear algebra, spectral graph theory, and topics in theoretical machine learning.

He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University and then completed a PhD in mathematics at MIT in 2021. He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study and a junior fellow at Harvard University before returning to MIT as an assistant professor of mathematics this fall.

Urschel was working toward his PhD in mathematics at MIT during his time in the NFL playing for the Baltimore Ravens. His teammates knew he was pursuing a degree however they weren’t aware that he was publishing six academic papers. In 2017, he made theForbes 30 Under 30 list for his work as an award-winning mathematician at age 25.

“I felt actually kind of guilty,” Urschel explained in a Sports Illustrated interview. “I was actually kind of ashamed of myself. I was doing math while playing, but I always prided myself on doing what I wanted to do and not budging on things.”

Ultimately, after three seasons with the NFL, Urschel retired in 2017 to pursue his passion for advanced theoretical mathematics. According to ESPN, Urschel wants to empower Black children to follow similar paths in STEM.