Player Spotlight: Bruce Irvin


If you attend a game this season at Mountaineer Field, it’s likely you will hear the roar of 60,000 strong yelling, “BRRUUUUCCCEE”. Defensive End Bruce Irvin(6’3, 240lbs) has become one of the most beloved, and followed Mountaineers in recent memory. His legend started last season in limited action where he racked up 14 sacks, finishing No. 2 in the nation.

Irvin will be pressed into action as an every down player, and he’s been working since the end of last season to prepare for his senior season. Irvin is receiving national attention and is appearing in magazines everywhere. #11 jerseys will be flying off the racks as fast as he gets into the opponents backfield.

Last season, Irvin finished with 21 total tackles, 18 unassisted, 14 sacks, one pass breakup and two forced fumbles. He led the Big East in sacks, and had a season high four solo tackles against Maryland, including a season high three sacks for 22 yards, a pass breakup and a forced fumble. All in a days work for Bruce Almighty.

For Irvin, it’s all about his team.

“It feels good to see that everybody knows me and sees me on the magazines,” Irvin said. “But, that is not what it is all about. We got some football to play and I got a dream that I am still trying to reach. It makes me feel good, but I still have a lot of work to do.”

For people to understand Bruce, they need to know where he’s been, not where he’s is today.

Irvin played wide receiver at Stephenson High School (Ga.) He went to California to play junior college football. He was a linebacker at Mt. San Antonio Junior College where he helped lead his team to a 13-1 record, earning conference, state and national championships. His days out west was anything but easy.

“I think I’m different than a lot of people,” said Irvin. “I started at the bottom, so I know how it feels to start at the bottom and rise up.”

Irvin made it through the hard times with the help of his family.

“In California, you are living in two bedrooms with seven or eight people and sleeping on the floor,” Irvin said. “You had creatures living with you sometimes. You get depressed and I got depressed about money situations and one or two meals a day. I was out in Cali by myself and I got depressed a lot of times. But, that’s when my family came in and my brother and they told me it is only temporary and it’s going to be worth it in the end and it was.”

The wait was well worth it. Instead of sleeping on the floor, Irvin has quarterbacks picking themselves off the floor. He continues to use his past as strength.

“I couldn’t go back to what I was doing,” Irvin said. “People wanted to see me fail and I had it in the back of my mind that the people I was running with are going through the same thing right now. For me it is different because I bust my butt and I did what I said I was going to do and I’m here.”

Irvin heads into his senior seasons as one of the top pass rushers in the nation with some pro rating services already labeling him as a first round draft pick. His coach, Bill Kirelawich, has seen plenty of pro players during his 30 plus years at West Virginia, and he sees Bruce headed down that path.

“When I think of Bruce, the guy I think of is the kid from Texas A&M who was the second pick this year (Von Miller),” said Kirelawich. “I see Bruce as being a faster, more physical version of him – and a stronger kid. Bruce has exceptional, exceptional strength; a guy that big shouldn’t be as strong as he is.”

Despite giving up 40 to 50 pounds to opposing blockers, Irvin says it won’t be a issue this season.

“If I’m getting off the ball fast, by the time they come out of their stance what are they going to do?” he explained. “It’s about penetration and leverage. It’s about staying low and getting off the ball quick and that’s my advantage. I just look at all of that and it makes me work harder.”

That hard work has put Bruce on the Bednarik Award list, an award given to the nation’s best defensive player. He also landed on the Bronco Nagurski Trophy list, given to the most outstanding defensive player.

We know WVU doesn’t line up against Marshall until September 4th, but from what I’m hearing, he already has 5 sacks and a fumble recovery. If you listen close, you can already hear it, “BRRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCEEEE.”