Now that I’ve elevated the blood pressure of Sam Huff and Pat White loyalists I should point out what exactly the headline to this article is suggesting. I am not suggesting that as it stands today Bruce Irvin is the greatest Mountaineer of all time.
What I am saying is there is an argument to be made that Irvin has the potential, when it is all said and done, to be at least in the discussion as an all time great. Lets examine why Bruce Irvin possesses the ingredients for such lofty expectations.
While Irvin only played two years at WVU, they were two of the most productive seasons by a defensive end in the program’s history. Bruce transferred from Mt. San Antonio College in California to West Virginia prior to the 2010 season. Irvin gained points with Mountaineer faithful before playing a snap by choosing WVU over programs such as Tennessee and Arizona State. Irvin was billed as a premier pass rusher and fans had high hopes for the four star prospect. Once Irvin arrived on campus fans immediately took to Irvin as did Irvin to Morgantown. It really was a love at first sight situation. Once the 2010 season started Irvin lived up to his hype and recorded 14 sacks. Every sack was followed up by the now famous chant of “Bruuuuuce” raining down from the Mountaineer Field.
In 2011 Irvin had another stellar season en route to being named to the All Big East team and an SI.com Honorable Mention All-American. Irvin added another 8.5 sacks to his career total despite constantly being doubled and sometime triple teamed. Bruce Irvin was the player that fans, young and old, zoned in on to watch every down he was on the field. In year two what really became apparent is Bruce Irvin loved Morgantown, the state of West Virginia, and its people. During interviews, social media postings, and interactions with the crowd during games a special bond was established between Irvin and West Virginians that still exists to this day.
After completing his two standout seasons at WVU Irvin was selected as the 15th overall pick in the NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Throughout the draft process and his rookie year, despite moving on to the NFL, Irvin continued to mention his love of West Virginia and its fans. Irvin often compared WVU fan’s passion to those of Seattle’s 12th man fan base. Even though Irvin had moved to the NFL he proudly kept his twitter handle as @ .
Once in Seattle Irvin’s success continued. Irvin’s rookie season he had 8 sacks as a pass rushing specialist. Irvin would be a key part in what most would consider the NFL’s best defense from 2012 to 2014. In 2014 Irvin and the Seahawks would be crowned Super Bowl champions as Irvin’s string of accomplishments grew. This past offseason Irvin became a prized free agent and signed a four year 37 million dollar contract with the Oakland Raiders.
Despite his success at the NFL level Irvin has maintained his ties to WVU and Morgantown. After signing his rookie contract with the Seahawks Irvin immediately made a $100,000 donation to the Mountaineer Athletic Club to be put towards the new weight room. As a result the Bruce Irvin Speed and Conditioning Zone was born.
At the time Bruce stated, ““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, 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.”
Quotes like this is what really brings Irvin into the discussion as being one of the greatest Mountaineers to ever wear the uniform. Irvin has gone on to great success at the next level but still has such a deep passion and respect for the state of West Virginia. For West Virginians this is as an important quality as any. Bruce routinely returns to Morgantown for the spring game and during bye weeks.
I’ve personally observed Bruce Irvin in the Blue Lot before games talking with fans, laughing and having a great time. And as always Irvin loves to take to Twitter to let his fans in West Virginia know exactly how he feels about them. Below are some recent Bruce Irvin quotes from his twitter account to prove my point.
Man I miss that Bruce chant! RT
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) May 26, 2016
Should I get the flying wv at the bottom of my pool?
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) March 3, 2016
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) January 12, 2016
Love seeing all my wvufamily in az!
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) January 2, 2016
Merry Christmas to my great people in West Virginia!
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) December 25, 2015
Bruce Irvin came to West Virginia University and had an outstanding career which helped propel him into the NFL as a first round draft pick. Irvin became a Super Bowl champion and a member one of the NFL’s best defenses of the past two decades.
Bruce’s hard work enabled him to become a top-tier free-agent and sign with the Oakland Raiders in 2016. The table is set for Irvin to enter his prime and continue writing what has been an incredible story.
Despite all his success and accolades Irvin has always held a special place in his heart for the state and people of West Virginian. It is truly amazing for West Virginians when an athlete like Bruce Irvin is humble and appreciative enough to understand what makes West Virginia such a unique and special place.
Bruce Irvin might not finish his career with a resume like a Sam Huff and he probably has an uphill battle to be considered the greatest Mountaineer of all time but one title he might already locking down is the most BELOVED Mountaineer of all time.