- Associated Press - Thursday, September 23, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.VA. (AP) - At 235 pounds, West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin is a lightweight at defensive end.

Just don’t call him a pushover.

Going up against 300-pound offensive linemen, the junior college transfer is starting to live up to his preseason billing as a solid speed rusher on passing downs for No. 22 West Virginia (3-0).

After going sackless in West Virginia’s first two games, Irvin had three sacks, a forced fumble and a pass breakup last week against Maryland to earn Big East defensive player of the week honors.

“It was a relief just to get it off my chest,” Irvin said.

Irvin’s teammates also were in on the fun. West Virginia had eight sacks overall against the Terrapins.

The challenge on Saturday for Irvin and the Mountaineers: Slowing down No. 15 LSU (3-0), which scored on seven of nine possessions in a 29-7 win over Mississippi State last week.

Despite his slow start against Coastal Carolina and Marshall, Irvin is on LSU’s radar now.

“He’s real quick off the line and not somebody you can take lightly,” said Tigers left tackle Joseph Barksdale. “He’s got a lot of speed, man. Good technique. Quick feet. We’re definitely going to have to focus on beating his particular type of pass rush.”

The attention on Irvin is not what he might have envisioned a few years ago.

He played wide receiver in Stone Mountain, Ga., but dropped out of high school in 2006.

A year later he earned his GED diploma, eventually resumed playing football and went to junior college in California as a safety in 2008.

Last year he was moved to the defensive line and recalled his coach’s simple instructions: “Put your hand in the dirt and just look at the quarterback.”

That advice was good enough for Irvin, who registered 16 sacks, was the second-leading tackler with 72 and returned a fumble 96 yards for a touchdown at Mount San Antonio Community College.

As far as his weight goes, Irvin explains money was tight in junior college because he wasn’t on scholarship and was responsible for his own meals and expenses. He wasn’t eating three meals a day.

Story Continues →