Bruce Irvin Trains with WVU Until Return to Seahawks - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Bruce Irvin Trains with WVU Until Return to Seahawks

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MORGANTOWN -

There is a familiar face roaming the sidelines at West Virginia games these days. It'll be there for the first five times the Mountaineers take the field this season, supporting the current wave of WVU players.

The face is that of Bruce Irvin, the former Mountaineer defensive end who made a major impact on the program in his two seasons in Morgantown. His ability to get past the offensive line and string together 22.5 sacks in just 26 games made Irvin a bit of a hero to WVU fans.

Entering his second NFL season, though, Irvin is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.  

So for the first four weeks of the Seattle Seahawks' schedule, Irvin is essentially not on the team. He can't show up to practice or to work out at the team's facilities. That is what brought him back to his alma mater to train with a staff that helped get him where he is.

"I could have gone anywhere in the country to train – Miami, Atlanta – but I choose to come here," said Irvin. "I feel like [WVU Strength and Conditioning Coach] Mike [Joseph] does a good job getting me ready mentally and physically. What better place is there than Morgantown, West Virginia? It's an honor for them to accept me with open arms and I'm just happy to be back home."

Joseph has been working with Irvin, helping him to stay in shape and continue to heal a groin injury until he can rejoin the Seahawks. The 6-foot-3, 248-pound defender told Joseph repeatedly during a recent workout that what he was being asked to do was far more difficult than his professional training.

"I don't know if I'm going to make four weeks of this," Irvin said to Joseph with a smile. "I might have to leave early."

Not only would Joseph not like to see Irvin leave early for the athlete's own sake, but also for the sake of the players who he can impact each day that he remains around the program.

"Kids listen to him. Our locker room will definitely benefit from him being around because he played at a high level defensively here," said Joseph. "Our younger guys can learn from him, they can talk to him in the locker room, talk to him on the field because he'll be on the sidelines for most of the games."

Irvin working out in WVU's newly renovated weight room makes sense, too. After all, his picture is on one wall, an area called The Bruce Irvin Speed and Conditioning Zone. It sits at the end of a 40-yard track that was the main reason for the actual expansion to the weight room over the summer.

The sign, which includes a few paragraphs about Irvin and his impact at WVU, is in recognition of the $100,000 donation the former Mountaineer gave to the weight room project.

"I always told Mike when I first got here, if I ever was fortunate enough to make it to the NFL, I was going to donate back to my university," said Irvin. "When God blessed me to become a first round pick, that's what I did."

The No. 15 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, Irvin's picture likely would have made it somewhere in the weight room even if he hadn't donated such a substantial amount to the cause. That he helped the plan become a reality made it even more important to honor his donation, which is something Joseph hopes the current players take notice of.

"I think a lot of our younger athletes who are going through the program or our recruits needs to see that a guy who is very successful in this area gave to the program," said Joseph. "Getting the $100,000 from Bruce is very significant, just like a lot of our other donors. But coming from a former athlete, especially a very recent former athlete, is a big bonus to the team and tradition."

Now Irvin plans to continue to give back to his college team by instilling in the Mountaineers just what it means to put on the old gold and blue and call themselves West Virginia University football players.

"I'm going to be around these guys as much as I can to try to let them know that you're representing not only yourself, but you're representing the guys who were before you – the Pat Whites and the Owen Schmitts and the Major Harrises, Rasheed Marshalls and not only them, but the people of this state," Irvin said.

Irvin sports a tattoo on his right biceps of the team's logo, the Flying WV. His hope is to teach the current generation of Mountaineers the reasons why he felt compelled to make that logo a permanent part of his body and why he believes they should be honored to wear it each Saturday in the fall.

"I think these younger guys don't really know what they're wearing on their helmets, but these next four weeks, I'm going to try to pound it into them as much as I can that the Flying WV is pretty serious. I take it very seriously," said Irvin. "It's just a learning process and these guys just need somebody to really let them know what it is and I'm going to try to do that as much as I can while I'm here." 

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