Being as involved in the internet sports world as I am, I know quite a few different fans from quite a few different fan bases. One of which is a kid who is as obsessed with West Virginia football as I am for the University of Washington.
So after the surprise pick of Bruce Irvin by the Seahawks in the middle of the first round I consulted my buddy Sean Manning who interns for WVIllustrated, covering Mountaineer football.
Manning tells us that the stories of Irvin’s off the field mis-conduct are grossly over-stated, and considering that Pete Carroll has a history with Irvin and was willing to go out on a limb for him I would be inclined to agree.
Manning also goes on to tell us Irvin’s role in the West Virginia defense and what his strengths and weaknesses are as a pass rusher.
Here is the transcript of the Q and A:
NASORB: Obviously, the first thing we have to address is the character concerns. As somebody whose been around the program the last few years what have you observed about his conduct on and off the field that could put us in Seattle at ease, and what might you be worried about?
Sean Manning: The character concerns have been greatly exaggerated by the national media and people who do not follow the program closely. They take a look at what happened to him five years ago in high school and think that he has not changed. Since arriving in Morgantown, he has been a leader on and off of the field.
Off the field, any time someone wanted an autograph or photo, he took the time to take it. I’m sure many have heard the story of knocking a sign off of a car, but Bruce sent a letter out to every single NFL team explaining the situation.
Overall, his problems are in the past. He has put himself in a better situation and a move to the west coast will put him as far away from his past problems in Atlanta as it possibly can.
NASORB: Can you help explain Irvin’s comments about how he feels he was not utilized properly in the WVU defense?
SM: During his junior season (his first at WVU as he transferred from a JC) Bruce only came in as a 3rd down specialist because of the depth WVU had on the d-line that season. At the beginning of his senior season, he was a 3-down player but as the year progressed, he only played in obvious pass downs. The man loves to compete, so when he’s not out there because the coaches said so, I think that really upset him. This may also be the reason for his comments about the coaches on the defensive staff, who are now at Arizona.
NASORB: What facet of his pass rushing game does he need to gain to become a polished pass rusher? Does he just have the speed for now?
SM: He needs to develop a move that allows him to get off of the tackle. As of now, he just blows past whoever is blocking him. Some type of spin move or something like that will be important for him in the NFL. His speed is what makes him special, but to last in this league, he needs to develop a move for when he is engaged.
(Here is a highlight video that better illustrates these points)
NASORB: When he was on the field as a 3-down player how did he play against the run?
SM: He had his hand in the ground all of the time at WVU, so it will be hard to compare how he will do against the run as the Leo in Pete Carroll’s defense, but the WVU run defense as a whole struggled early on. He was serviceable, but did struggle at times to keep contain.
NASORB: From what we’ve heard through radio interviews, Bruce seems like a really personable guy who is quickly making this city fall in love with him. What kind of guy was he around campus in Morgantown, with teammates, fans, etc.
SM: The best word I can say to explain his personality if infectious. People around here just love him. Like I’ve said before, he always took the time to take pictures and sign autographs with the fans, never seemed too good for that. His teammates really like him too, and you could tell last season that those guys were having fun at practice when he was there. We’re definitely going to miss him in the future and that big grin that was always on his face. The Seahawks have a big new fanbase in West Virginia, that’s for sure.
NASORB: Can you talk about the Bruuuuuuuuce tradition and the celebration he does after sacks? How did they start?
SM: The BRUUUUUUUUUUCE chant just came naturally. Anytime you have a name like that, the fans gravitate to it. We always yelled it when you saw him coming, about to make a play. When he was approaching the QB, you could hear a steady rumble start, and after he made the sack, the stadium erupted in a loud BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE. I’m not sure where he got the celebration from, but I know every time he made a play, he put his hands above his head and edged the fans to rain down the BRUUUUCE chants.
NASORB: We look forward to having him here in Seattle and if it works out, those chants will be raining down for sure.