CHARLOTTE – The abruptness of it all hit Corvey Irvin like a ton of bricks.
As he was sitting on the Laney High (Augusta, Ga.) team bus following the school's state semifinal playoff loss at the Georgia Dome in 2005, he realized his football career might be over. At the time, Irvin lacked foresight and maturity, never giving more than a passing thought to going to college. The only schools that had even given him a look were Fort Valley State and South Carolina State and Irvin wasn’t all that responsive.
“I would describe myself as a young man who was kind of lost,” Irvin said.
A short time later he was found.
Found by Bert Williams, the head football coach at Georgia Military College.
He immediately took a liking to Irvin and believed in him.
“He told me, ‘You're a great, young man with a bright future. If you believe in me and believe in my program at Georgia Military, anything is possible,’” Irvin said.
Irvin parlayed two successful years at Georgia Military into a scholarship at the University of Georgia and then one year as a starter there into becoming a top prospect in this year’s NFL draft. On Sunday, he became a rich man as the Carolina Panthers selected him in the third round of the NFL draft.
Irvin knows he couldn’t have done it without what he learned at Georgia Military College.
Coming out of high school Irvin said, “I could have used some good discipline, some character.”
Georgia Military, he said, was the best thing that ever happened to him, teaching him just that.
“They gave me a second chance at life, just do what's right, and like I said, be a man,” Irvin said.
Now confident and focused, Irvin is anxious to bring his game to the Panthers. He’s inexperienced, no doubt. He spent only one season as a starter at Georgia, but the Panthers saw something in him – maybe his 6-foot-3, 303-pound frame and cat-like quickness – to invest an important draft pick in him.
“He has quickness and he’s disruptive inside,” said Panthers general manager Marty Hurney. “We think he gets good penetration. We think he’s a very good player.”
Said Irvin: “My biggest strength is being able to cause corruption in the pocket. I can rush the passer real well and I can also play the run, too. I really don't have any weaknesses. I just need to work on my overall strength, get a little more coaching, more technique, a little more fundamental work and just listen. If I can put all that together I'll be a well-rounded athlete.”
Irvin is expected to backup starters Damione Lewis and Maake Kemoeatu this season.
“It was a tough road (to the NFL), but nothing in life is easy,” Irvin said. “Coming where I'm coming from… going through all of the military stuff coming out of high school, it was kind of tough for me. I'm a hard worker; I have a good work ethic… It's been a long road, but I'm here now and I want to make my NFL career a great one.”