When Vandalia area fans begin cheering on the University of Missouri football team in this weekend’s opener, they will now have a local player to cheer for after he became one of five new Tigers earning a roster spot last week.
Brian Kurz, a 2013 Van-Far graduate, trained all summer long lifting hard and added 15-20 pounds in time for an open tryout for walk-ons on Monday, August 24.
Kurz filled out the necessary paperwork and went through an interview process where he was asked an array of questions.
With Missouri needing some depth in the tight end position, Kurz’s size and eagerness to play wherever needed was enough to make him one of five walk-ons selected among a competition with 60 other players.
“When they saw me they saw they could make me a tight end and they took me,” said Kurz, who was a lineman in high school. “…I have to wake up and remind myself this was real. I had not mentally prepared myself (at first) because I didn’t even think there was a chance. Now I accept it’s reality.”
When he was selected, he couldn’t wait to tell his parents, Tim and Michelle Kurz along with his little brother Brandon.
“My dad was just in shock,” Brian Kurz said. “My mom on the other hand went into football mom mode instantly asking about me sleeping, getting classes arranged (etc.)…My favorite person to tell is my little brother. He’s on cloud nine right now.”
He said his parents visited him last Saturday, on the same day Kurz dressed into full shoulder pads for the first time against Missouri’s starting defense.
Kurz was thrown right into the fire on Tuesday, August 25 as he found himself catching passes from All-SEC quarterback Maty Mauk and Drew Lock.
“Here I am talking to Russell Hansbrough coming out of the huddle,” he said.
“Coach Gary Pinkle came up and shook my hand and asked me where I was from…It just doesn’t seem like reality.”
Kurz said he struggled with his nerves as the stress of the situation induced a panic attack, as he found himself in the hospital after running 600 yards in sprints.
His second day of practiced featured a visit by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who addressed the team.
Due to injuries, Kurz is sitting at No. 4 on the depth chart. With the position, he received a ton of athletic gear that included new shoes, gloves, and so much more.
Kurz said he’s studying the playbook on an iPad he received to pick up the plays and is attempting to show coaches what he knows when given an opportunity in the rotation with drills. He said his tight end coach is encouraging him to use his smarts, notably with him having the highest G.P.A. in the position, to his advantage.