Not many defensemen get their hands on Aaron Rodgers. Irvin did. Twice.
More and more often, stories of star athletes emerging from miserable childhoods captivate sports entertainment audiences.
Bruce Irvin, a rookie pass-rusher for Seattle, has faced some adversity of his own. Selected by the Seahawks at No. 15 overall in April, Irvin has been thrust into the NFL spotlight early in his career.
In 2012, Irvin seems removed from his childhood troubles and history of disobedience. Once a teen without a home, the first-round NFL draft choice now stands in position to overcome everyone's expectations.
Here's why Irvin has done a good job so far.
Excellence in Practice
Most rookies can count on seeing plenty of reserve time before getting involved in live NFL action. The first way to rise through the ranks is to impress the coaching staff in practice.
"He's playing exactly like we hoped; he is going to be in all of the sub-packages. He actually had his best day of practice yesterday and the day before that was an excellent day too"
Coach Carroll's comments in early September reflect a quality that all coaches desire from their rookies. So far, Bruce Irvin has been so impressive on the practice field that his superiors are forced to notice.
The 2012 season is only four games old. Bruce Irvin has been a factor in two of the four, both of which the Seahawks were able to win.
Although it stands at 2-2 now, Seattle has to be encouraged by Irvin's contribution so far. Most notably, the rookie turned in two crucial sacks against NFC powerhouse Green Bay; Irvin and the Seahawks got enough pressure on Aaron Rodgers to sneak away with a 14-12 victory.
The hybrid pass-rusher's impact is limited by the coaching staff's utilization of his position. Despite being the designation of linebacker, Irvin's main focus is to get to the quarterback rather than drop into coverage.
Entering an entirely new league with significantly higher-caliber athletes on both sides of the ball, Irvin has still looked among the most talented on the field when between the lines. His unique skills have provided fire to the Seahawks' defensive unit, and it will continue to incorporate Irvin more as the season wears on.
Lack of Off-field Drama
Bruce Irvin is only human. For that reason, it is surprising and commendable that he has been able to overcome a dark past.
A lot of times, young athletes are unable to be good citizens. In Irvin's case, his upbringing (or lack thereof) did not lay a significant foundation for how to act as a man.
However, to this point he has shown no significant effects of times past. With the exception of an incident at a sandwich shop in West Virginia (charges dropped), Irvin has been able to maintain a clean record and demonstrate character on and off the football field.
Irvin definitely benefits from having Pete Carroll as head coach; the former USC leader understands how to develop young men into respectable societal characters.
For the Seahawks, Bruce Irvin has been a genuine success story. Although only four games into a young 2012 campaign, the rookie pass-rusher has gone a long way in proving his doubters wrong.