After spending two great years at West Virginia University, Bruce Irvin, like the rest of us, now considers Morgantown, West Virginia “Almost Heaven.”
And because of his growing love for WVU, Seattle’s sack man has made a generous donation of $100,000 to the Mountaineer Athletic Club toward the construction of a new football weight room at Milan Puskar Stadium that is about to get underway soon.
“I’ve got a lot of love for the state and the University and coming from my situation, they gave me a chance when I was in junior college,” Irvin said recently. “(Late WVU coach) Bill Stewart gave me a chance to display my talents on the Division I level and I felt like it was only right to give back for the younger kids.
“Hopefully everyone takes the Flying WV as seriously as I do.”
Irvin was in Morgantown recently to take in West Virginia’s disappointing 50-49 loss to Oklahoma and he says he follows just about every Mountaineer game on television that he can.
“We had a down year but no matter the situation, I’m still always going to rep West Virginia,” Irvin said. “I prayed about it and I talked to a lot of people and I just felt like in my heart it was the right decision. I’m pretty comfortable, and I can afford $100,000 to something that matters and will be used. Having my name in the weight room will mean a lot to me.”
Irvin says the weight room plays a vital role in the development of any college football player. It is a place where the players spend most of their time, especially during the summer. “Everything starts in the weight room, and I think that’s a perfect place to put it at,” Irvin explained.
Irvin has such strong feelings for West Virginia University because of the difficult circumstances he encountered as a youth growing up in Stone Mountain, Ga., and later during cross country stops in junior college.
For Irvin, West Virginia University was the place that helped him realize his goal of becoming a first-round draft pick with the Seattle Seahawks on the way toward his ultimate goal of becoming one of the top defensive players in the NFL.
“It certainly helped me,” Irvin said of his two seasons at WVU. “I could have gone to any school in the country coming out of junior college, and I chose West Virginia because I felt like it was the perfect fit and it was. Not talking bad about my family, but playing for that state and that school … you’re family. It taught me a lot about loyalty and going into the draft, the only people who believed in me were West Virginians. At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
“I don’t even go back to Atlanta,” he continued. “When I come home I come to West Virginia and I consider that my home. Hopefully, one day when I’m done I wouldn’t mind settling there.”
The Seahawks are currently second in the NFC West with an 8-5 record and Irvin is second on the team in sacks with eight while closing in on his personal goal of reaching 10 sacks for his rookie campaign.
“I’m happy,” he said of his play so far. “It’s a long season and my body is sore, but I’m enjoying myself and it’s the first (year) of hopefully many to come. I’m just going out there and practicing hard every day and I’m trying to hit this double digits in sacks.”
Irvin had a sack in last week’s blowout victory over Arizona and has recorded multiple sacks in three games with contests remaining against Buffalo, San Francisco and St. Louis. According to Irvin, getting pro quarterbacks to the ground is the easy part; the difficult part is getting around those big tackles to get to them.
“It’s the people who block you that you’ve got to beat to get to them,” he said.
By all accounts, the Seahawks are excited with the progress Irvin has made during his rookie year, validating their controversial decision to make him their top pick in last year’s draft. For his part, Irvin certainly believes he is part of something special that is happening in Seattle right now.
“I’m in the perfect situation,” he said. “I’ve got a great group of veterans around me teaching me how to be a player on and off the field. It’s just the best situation for me and I’m in a great position to succeed.”
In the meantime, Irvin says he usually runs into somebody from West Virginia at every NFL city he has been to so far this year. Getting an opportunity to visit with Mountaineer fans is something Irvin says he really enjoys.
“I see them in airports and everywhere and there is always love,” he said. “We talk. That’s just the West Virginia people. They are good-hearted people, down-to-earth, and it was just a perfect situation for me.”Check out Antonik's new book The Backyard Brawl: Stories from One of the Weirdest, Wildest, Longest Running, and Most Intense Rivalries in College Football History now available in bookstores. A portion of the sales benefit the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Also, be sure to "Like" the new Backyard Brawl Facebook page and tell us your personal WVU-Pitt story.