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The newest Seahawks sacker: surprising first round draft pick Bruce Irvin

He's everything the Seahawks said they wanted in their first round draft pick. West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin has speed and can deliver one heck of a sack. But he also comes with some baggage.

Unexpected choice

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the Seahawks No. 15 pick in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday was a surprise to most people - including Irvin himself.

Most scouting services had him as a second round pick. Irvin told reporters he was just as astonished as everyone else that he was selected as early as he was in the first round.

This sacker has speed

Even though he was a surprise pick, Irvin has something the Seahawks need in a defensive end - speed.  Art says Pete Carroll knew Irvin from his junior college days in California when Carroll was head coach at USC.

"The clincher was that Pete Carroll said he's the fastest defensive end in America - which means everything for the Seahawks who need a pass rusher. But no one saw this guy coming except for a handful of scouts who timed him at the scouting combine (in Feb. 2012) at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which is an astonishing number for a 250-lb. guy."

Questions about character

Irvin was arrested in March and charged with destruction of property for breaking a sign at a sandwich shop. Art says Irvin downplayed the incident when he talked with reporters Thursday night.

"He said he managed to get all the charges dropped and mentioned that 'The Lord knew it was B.S.' It turns out he's a pretty colorful and somewhat tragic character. He's gone to two different high schools (eventually got GED), two different junior colleges and couldn't get into USC when Carroll wanted him there because he didn't have the academics. So he went to West Virginia and starred there for a couple of years. But he got into various scrapes and issues."

The Seattle Times reports Irvin spent a few weeks in jail on burglary charges after dropping out of high school in Atlanta. That's back when he was known as B.J. Irvin.

New name, fresh start

Art says Irvin's sense of humor came through when he was talking about how he started going by Bruce in 2008 in an effort to make a fresh start.

"He emphasized he's never been suspended, never had a drug test. He sounded like he was going to portray himself as a victim of circumstances. But he also admitted to something that was rather amusing. He was asked why he changed his name from B.J. to Bruce and he said 'That B.J. guy was getting into a lot of trouble."

Wait and see

Art says there's no question about Irvin's talent, speed and ability. It may take longer to see if his troubled past will really make way for a brighter future.

"He's certainly a tremendous athlete and fills what Pete Carroll wanted out of his first round draft choice. So, the Seahawks are quite happy about this. The rest of us are going to wait to see how this plays out with character and attitude."

Find out more details from Art Thiel at Sportspress Northwest.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between historylink.org and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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