Bruce Irvin Represents WVU in Super Bowl - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Bruce Irvin Represents WVU in Super Bowl

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MORGANTOWN -

Seven years ago, Bruce Irvin never would have pictured the scene.

Dreamed it, maybe, but as a high school dropout following a path of crime and self-destruction, a focal point of media day on the week of the Super Bowl wouldn't have seemed like a real possibility.

Yet there Irvin stood, signing autographs for Seattle Seahawks fans and fielding questions about how he and his teammates would slow one of the most prolific offenses in the history of the National Football League.

Seven years ago, Irvin watched as the friends he lived with at the time were arrested when the police raided the house for drugs.

Today, he is just days away from playing in the biggest game of his life.

"My intention was to get out and change the things I was doing, and seven years later I'm here," Irvin said from the site of Super Bowl XLVIII. "Words can't explain how happy I am. I reflect every day. I come from a tough road. Obviously, God had a plan for me. I can't tell you all the things I was doing, but God guided me and he blessed me and I'm here today."

The events that transpired from the time when Irvin decided to take control of his own path and redirect it down country roads to Morgantown are what allowed him to escape and to create a different narrative for his life.

Through the help of West Virginia wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway, Irvin found his way into a Mountaineer uniform after developing into one of the nation's most desirable junior college prospects during his time at Mt. San Antonio College. In just two seasons with WVU, he made his mark.

Irvin wreaked havoc on Big East quarterbacks, putting up 14 sacks in his first season and following that showing with nine more as a senior. All the while, he became a fan favorite as a player who always spoke his mind and never held back in expressing his affinity for the Mountain State.

"I consider West Virginia my home," Irvin said this week. "It's one of the best decisions I ever made by going to that university. When I decided to go there, I just kind of wanted to go somewhere where they needed me as much as I needed them. I felt like that was the case with West Virginia."

The Seahawks and head coach Pete Carroll decided they needed Irvin, too, making him the No. 15 overall selection of the 2012 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he led all first-year players with eight sacks. In year two, he served a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing substances policy, in which time he returned to Morgantown to work out at his alma mater.

Once back with Seattle, he reeled in his first career interception and recorded 31 tackles. His two sacks were down from his rookie campaign, but he did it while growing accustomed to a new position as an outside linebacker on the league's best defense.

"It fits me well," Irvin said of his role. "It's my first year playing. Hopefully I can keep getting better each and every year. Hopefully a Pro Bowler."

First up: a Super Bowler. One with the opportunity to line up across from Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, whose record-breaking 2013 campaign has set up for quite a challenge on Sunday.

"Getting to Peyton and getting him off the spot is a huge way we can stop their offense," said Irvin. "I don't think you can stop him, but you can slow him down. He don't like getting hit. That's our biggest thing."

Irvin is presented with an opportunity that any child who picks up a football imagines. The Super Bowl will have the attention of millions of sports fans around the country and around the world and No. 51 will be out there doing his part to ensure a Seahawks victory.

"We've got to cherish this moment," he said. "There are dudes in the Hall of Fame who have never been here before and I'm here in my second year. We've got to work hard and capitalize on this opportunity."

Seattle will have plenty of fans in West Virginia as Mountaineer Nation roots on one of its own. WVU men's basketball coach Bob Huggins counts himself among those hoping Irvin can come out on the winning end and return to his alma mater to be honored for his accomplishments at halftime of a Mountaineers game.

"I'm 100 percent behind Bruce," said Huggins. "I'd like nothing more than to have Bruce come back into Morgantown toting a big Super Bowl ring."

Irvin knows that kind of support has come his way since the moment he set foot on campus at WVU.

"I love the state. I love the school," said Irvin. "I'm just happy to represent a great university and a state such as West Virginia."

On Sunday, Irvin plays on the biggest stage. Seven years later, dreams can become reality.  

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