A Football Life: Kyle Shurmur’s journey from a football family to Vanderbilt stardom

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A Football Life: Kyle Shurmur’s journey from a football family to Vanderbilt stardom

Kyle Shurmur (14) as Vanderbilt lost against the South Carolina Gamecocks 13-10 at Vanderbilt Stadium September 1, 2016. Photo by Ziyi Liu.

Kyle Shurmur (14) as Vanderbilt lost against the South Carolina Gamecocks 13-10 at Vanderbilt Stadium September 1, 2016. Photo by Ziyi Liu.

Ziyi Liu

Kyle Shurmur (14) as Vanderbilt lost against the South Carolina Gamecocks 13-10 at Vanderbilt Stadium September 1, 2016. Photo by Ziyi Liu.

Ziyi Liu

Ziyi Liu

Kyle Shurmur (14) as Vanderbilt lost against the South Carolina Gamecocks 13-10 at Vanderbilt Stadium September 1, 2016. Photo by Ziyi Liu.

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

“Take Your Kid to Work Day” is always a special time for any family. Mothers and fathers have the chance show their children what they do for a living and can inspire a passion or even a career path for the kids.

However, “Take Your Kid to Work Day” for the Shurmur family looked a bit different. In the Shurmur household, it was a chance for their son, Kyle, to develop a love for his favorite game: football.

Football, Football and More Football

Entering his third season at Vanderbilt and his second as starting quarterback, Kyle Shurmur has been surrounded by football since day one.

His father, Pat Shurmur, has been a coach in the NFL since Kyle was just three years old. Since then, he has held coaching positions with the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings, his current team.

So, when “Take Your Kid to Work Day” entailed sending Kyle to watch an NFL practice on the sidelines, it seems inevitable he would end up playing football, right?

Not quite. The Shurmurs loved football, but they never imposed the game on Kyle.

“I mean, yeah, there was a lot of football influence, but dad never really forced football upon me, which is cool,” Kyle told the Vanderbilt Hustler last week. “I just thought it was so awesome, and having the privilege to go watch practice or whatever and watch how professionals work.”

According to Pat, now the offensive coordinator for Minnesota, Kyle was always an athlete, competing in many different sports. He played baseball, football and became a swimmer, taking after his mother, Jennifer, a swimmer at Michigan State.

It was Kyle’s competitive edge that led him to excel at football, and all sports, not his family ties or parental nudging.

“Kyle is extremely competitive and extremely passionate about the things he wants to compete in,” Pat said in a phone interview with the Hustler last week. “I think that’s the starting point. As time went on, he grew tall and was able to display an ability to throw the football. Along the way, he was very fortunate to have some really good coaches in his primary years and through high school.”

As far as Pat and Jennifer were concerned, forcing Kyle into football would have been a grave mistake. Pat was also glad to know Kyle didn’t feel forced into the game.

“I’m glad he said that, because as a parent, I’ve seen parents that have forced sports on kids, and it appears to me, or it always seemed to me that that would have been the worst thing to do,” Pat said.

“I think along the way we encouraged him and we told him he would develop the passions that he felt. Then once you decided to play a sport, you give it your all. Along the way, kids find their way.”

Learning from the Best

It’s not uncommon for young football players to emulate the professionals they see on TV. Quarterbacks like Michael Vick and Cam Newton have inspired many kids to work on their arms and their legs as quarterbacks.

For Kyle, it wasn’t about emulating players on TV; he had the chance to learn straight from the source.

While Kyle was just learning the game of football in his youth, Pat was the quarterbacks coach for the Eagles from 2002 to 2008. In that time, Kyle got to learn from one of the best quarterbacks of the last 20 years: Donovan McNabb.

In addition, when Pat left to become the offensive coordinator in St. Louis, Kyle got the chance to get tips from then-Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

Not many NCAA quarterbacks can say they got extended mentorship as a kid from Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford.

I think when you’re around it, especially at the highest level like this, you gain perspective,” Pat said. “Whether you’re in Philadelphia around Donovan McNabb or in St. Louis with Sam Bradford or the quarterbacks we had in Cleveland or out here with the Vikings.”

“When you’re around and you meet these players and you talk to them and you see elements to them and they’re just human, but you also are able to see how they’re passionate, well-prepared and competitive.”

Kyle had the chance to learn from all of those quarterbacks before playing in high school in Pennsylvania. Since coming to Vanderbilt, Kyle has had more chances to interact with professional quarterbacks, attending the Manning Camp, run by Eli, Peyton and Archie Manning, with many other NCAA quarterbacks.

Coach, Fan, Dad

Whether Kyle has a tough game or a strong performance under center, his biggest supporter will always be his dad. Not only does Pat help him with his play on the field, but he can lift Kyle up and keep his head on right as well.

“Yeah, he knows a lot about football and he’s helped me a bunch in terms of the mental aspect of the game. He’s a perfect person to vent to after a game because of his understanding of the game, and he’s my biggest fan as well.”

In addition to being a great cheerleader for Kyle, Pat make sure he finds the time to watch Kyle’s games.

Despite being over 800 miles from Nashville, Pat’s Saturdays are all about Kyle.

“I watch them all,” Pat said of Kyle’s games. “I took some time this offseason on one of the weekends and I just watched all of his games. We get all the college games here. I think, as I watched him last year, he played much better in the second half of the season than he did the first.”

Time to Breakout?

With two seasons under his belt, this season is Kyle’s time to stand out. And if his opening game is any indication, he’s ready for it. He threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-6 victory over MTSU.

His throws were accurate, he looked poised in the pocket, and he stepped into his throws like a professional quarterback.

According to Pat, Kyle has been working all summer long on being able to do just that.

“I think he spent a lot of time in the offseason working to improve his throwing, and I’m sure he’s done a great deal in training camp as far as the progressions and other things that he has to do in his offense,” Pat said. “I know he’s worked extremely hard at it, so I’m just looking forward to seeing him play.”

As Pat knows, Kyle didn’t get to this point by resting on his football family or his dad’s credentials. He got to Vanderbilt through hard work, competitiveness and dedication to the game he loves.

And after a bowl loss last season, Kyle and his teammates are ready to put in more hard work, show their competitiveness and dedication and make this season one to remember.

“I think everybody was riding a little too high, got a little too comfortable, and I think in the end, that bowl loss was one of the best things for this year,” Kyle said. “It made us hungry throughout this offseason, reminded us that we didn’t get those victories at the end of the year based on just being good.

“We had to work for it.”

Photo by Ziyi Liu//The Vanderbilt Hustler.

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