A DEGREE OF DEDICATION
Super Bowl champ Bruce Irvin comes home to graduate at WVU
Less than two years later, he'd help lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos.
Irvin, who caught a red-eye flight Thursday from California to be in Morgantown for commencement weekend, almost chose not to don the cap and gown and walk onto the stage.
"I was a little hesitant to walk at first," he said. "But my Raider people convinced me. They said this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And considering where I came from – I had a GED and never thought about walking across the college stage for anything. I definitely deserve to walk and it gives me another chance to come back home."
Up to 20 members of Irvin's family were in Morgantown to witness this latest milestone. One was his young son Brayden, who's already being groomed for Mountaineerdom.
He told Tony Caridi in a sitdown interview Friday about the time his wife bought their son a basketball with the logo of a rival WVU team on it.
"I came home and was like, 'What is this?'" Irvin said. "'(She said) well, you know, I got it from the store and…' I picked the ball up and there's a bunch of woods behind the house and I threw it into the woods."Tony Caridi interviews Bruce Irvin at Milan Puskar Stadium a day before the NFL star walked in a 2018 WVU commencement ceremony (Photo by Dale Sparks).
Irvin could easily be singing the praises of another university instead, particularly the Arizona State Sun Devils. In fact, Irvin committed to Arizona State…after he committed to WVU.
Lonnie Galloway, who was then a receivers coach for WVU, had recruited Irvin and wound up convincing him to change his mind back to WVU.
"I think about 'what if,'" Irvin said. "I do. I wouldn't have gotten the love that I have now. I chose WVU because I could come here, stand out and the people would remember me. That's the thing. I wanted to go wherever they needed me as much as I needed them."
Irvin has frequently returned to the Mountain State since leaving. His wife is a Charleston native and he's spent many of his trips back serving the community. For instance, a few years ago, he came to Morgantown to play air hockey and pass footballs with local youth at a United Way event promoting healthy lifestyles.
And although he's a Georgia native and spent just two years on the WVU football squad, this will forever be his home.
"It's a family environment," he said. "When I was getting drafted, people were talking about me going in the third or fourth round. But everyone in the state believed I'd go in the first round. And when I went, people sent me videos of people in downtown Morgantown celebrating like we'd won a national championship. It's more than me being a football player here. It's a family. That's why I will always consider this place home."