IN MY column this past Sunday, I brought up the subject of WVU football All-America candidates. Within, I focused on cornerback Keith Tandy.
Today, though, let's turn the lens and zoom in on the other likely candidate: Bruce Irvin.
The latest word is that he not only has a shot to be an All-America player, but a very high NFL draft pick next year.
Go ahead. Type in a few keywords on your computer search engine like: NFL, mock, draft and 2012. You'll see wild swings among the mock drafts out there, but you certainly can get an idea of the most highly regarded players entering next season.
WVU athletic director Oliver Luck's son, Andrew, a quarterback, is the near consensus No. 1 pick, assuming he leaves Stanford early. You'll see a few Big East players sprinkled within. Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu seems to be highly regarded. I spotted Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead somewhere. Ditto Tandy as a second-round selection.
But Irvin, listed in spots as an outside linebacker rather than defensive end, made some first-round projections. NFL Draft Scout, for instance, lists him as the No. 2 outside linebacker available and No. 10 overall pick.
CBSSports.com has him just missing the first round. At Draft Site, he's projected as the No. 22 overall pick, headed to the Indianapolis Colts. (Silly, I know. Who knows in what order teams will be picking? Bear with me though.)
On the flip side, there are mock drafts in which Irvin doesn't make the grade at all. Respected analyst Gil Brandt has him ranked No. 79 among all players.
(I must call a timeout here, by the way, to point out that, according to the sites, there should be a very interesting matchup within the Sept. 4 matchup of Marshall and West Virginia. Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry, widely regarded as the best defensive player in Conference USA, is right there in many of the mock drafts with Irvin. You may remember Curry held a January press conference to announce he was sticking with MU for his senior season. May pay off. NFL Draft Scout lists Curry as the No. 22 overall player available. The Draft Site has him going No. 25 to Seattle. Again, I don't know how you even try to determine the team, but ...)
The point here is Irvin's squarely in the focus of NFL draft scouts - even though he wasn't a full-time starter last season. The reasons: He's fast off the edge, he's rangy and he had 14 sacks, second nationally, as a role player last season.
Irvin could become WVU's highest draft pick since Pat White, who was taken in the second round of 2009, or Adam "Pacman" Jones, who was selected in the first round in 2006.
For perspective, though, it's always good to go to WVU assistant coach Bill Kirelawich, a man never known to mince words.
"Potential and a dime doesn't get you a cup of coffee at the old Freddie's," Kirelawich said.