For those that follow the West Virginia Mountaineers and the recruiting that goes along with it, we have known about Bruce Irvin for several years. We knew about him before he arrived on campus in Morgantown as a JUCO transfer, and what he might bring to the Mountaineer football team. He burst on the scene recording 14 sacks in the 2010 season which ranked him 2nd in the nation in that category. “Bruuuuuccceee!!” was a frequently cheer at Mountaineer field.
He won 2nd-Team All-Big East and was an Honorable Mention for the Sports Illustrated All-American team.
Going into the 2011 season, expectations were through the roof for Irvin. Could he improve upon the 13.5 sacks in 2010? Would he challenge Canute Curtis for the all-time Mountaineer record for sacks?
Irvin hails from just outside of Atlanta, GA. He had a long, difficult road to get to where he is now. He played wide receiver, but was a high-school dropout. He then earned his GED in 2007 before going to Butler Community College and then Mt. San Antonio College in California. While in California, he recorded 17 sacks, 72 tackles, and 1 fumble recovered for a touchdown on his way to California Region III Player of the Year status.
In Irvin’s first year at WVU, he played mainly on 3rd downs in passing situations. He recorded 22 tackles during the 2010 season to go along with the 14 sacks. After that season, the Mountaineers lost the interior of the defensive line with Chris Neild going to the Redskins in the 2010 NFL Draft, and Scooter Berry playing for the Texans during the Preseason. With the loss of star power in the middle, the Mountaineers wanted to move returning DE Julian Miller to the interior some to allow Irvin to be an every-down player.
In this past 2011 season, Irvin’s Senior season, he nearly doubled his number of tackles recorded from the previous season going from 22 to 40. His sack numbers fell due in large part to getting double-teamed more often going from 14 to 8.5. He got behind the line and had 14 tackles for loss in both of his seasons in a Mountaineer uniform. He was elected to the All-Big East Conference First-Team.
So now that Bruce Irvin’s eligibility is used up and he has an eye on an NFL future, how does his size, attributes, and skill set translate to the next level?
More than likely, Irvin will be cast as a pass-rushing linebacker on an NFL team that utilizes a 3-4 defense. He is slightly undersized to play on the defensive line at 6’3″ 245 lbs., but some teams that uses a 4-3 defense may not mind that if they want a pass rusher. Although he was typecast as a pass rusher at WVU, Irvin showed the ability to break from blocks coming from tight ends to chase down running backs with his speed. He is very similar in size to the Houston Texans’ Brian Cushing.
His best attribute is of course his pass rush. However, he has very good instincts for a man still learning to play defense. Because he is still learning, he has a big upside. He has a motor that drives him on and off the field.
What will really help Irvin is a strong showing at the NFL Combine at the end of February and doing the same at WVU’s Pro-Day in mid-March. Some now project Irvin as a late 1st-Round or early 2nd-Round pick. If he runs a sub 4.5 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine look out. He could go soaring up the Draft boards.
Keep it tuned here to WVU Pros in the coming months for news on Irvin and the other Mountaineers that hope to get drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft.