Troup’s Irvin getting his chance
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
He’d come too far, and endured too much to let one setback derail him.
Troup High’s Michael Irvin was competing in the Class AAAA state wrestling meet in February when he lost a match, ending his hopes of capturing a state championship.
Irvin still had a chance to secure a spot on the podium and earn a medal, though, so he re-focused, and prepared himself mentally for what was to come.
“I just felt like I wanted to do it for my coaches, and for myself, and show the kind of person that I am, that I’m not going to quit no matter what the circumstances are,” Irvin said.
Irvin shrugged off that 3-2 loss and won his next four matches to finish the state meet with a 5-1 record and return home with a third-place medal.
It was a special moment for Irvin, whose previous two wrestling seasons ended early because of injuries.
“That senior year, that was the highlight of my wrestling career,” Irvin said. “My freshman year, I didn’t get to make it (to state). My 10th-grade year, I broke my hand at the state tournament and I couldn’t finish it out. My 11th-grade year, I didn’t get to wrestle at all (because of an injury). Just to finally get there and get through the whole tournament healthy and show what I really could do meant a lot.”
Irvin was also a standout on the football team as an offensive lineman, and he helped the team enjoy plenty of success throughout his time in the program.
Football and wrestling both mean so much to Irvin, and he was hoping to get an opportunity to continue competing in both sports in college.
Irvin was presented with a chance to be a two-sport athlete at Cumberland University (Tenn.), and that was an offer Irvin readily accepted.
Irvin committed to Cumberland earlier this week, and he’ll be a member of the football team and the wrestling team.
“It was really a tough decision for me to pick wrestling or football,” Irvin said. “It’s a great fit for me where I can go and do both.”
Irvin was able to visit the campus this week, and after the tour and meeting with the coaches he knew Cumberland was the place for him.
“I visited campus this Tuesday. It was really nice,” Irvin said. “It wasn’t too big, wasn’t too small. The place looked nice, and clean. I really liked the coach. I bonded with the coach. We all just sat down and had a nice little talk. I felt like they showed me a lot of love, more than the other schools.”
The recruiting process can be stressful, and Irvin is grateful to have it behind him.
“I just felt like it was a big old weight off my shoulders,” Irvin said. “I was relaxed, and now really stress about it anymore.”
In football, Irvin was a multi-year starter, and he was the lone senior on the offensive line during the 2019 season.
During his four seasons in the program, the Tigers won 35 games and reached the state playoffs four times, and they made it to the Class AAAA state semifinals in 2018.
Unfortunately for Irvin, he missed that playoff run in 2018 with an injury, although he still played enough that season to earn a spot on the all-region team.
That same injury forced Irvin to miss the 2018-2019 wrestling season.
“My junior year, that football season was really special,” Irvin said. “Coming off the injury, I was watching the team play without me, and I was watching the wrestling team. It showed me how much I love the sport, love the game.”
Irvin came back strong for his senior season, and he started every game for a football team that had a winning record and reached the state playoffs.
When football ended, Irvin made the transition to wrestling, and he had a big season that included a second-place showing in the area tournament and the third-place finish at state.
Irvin dealt with a shoulder injury throughout the season, but it didn’t keep him off the mat, and he finished his high-school athletic career in style.
“It was a great time,” Irvin said, reflecting on his time in high school. “I learned a lot, and I’m really going to miss it at Troup.”
For the past two school years Irvin has been teammates with his younger brother Kullum Irvin, who is a standout in football and wrestling.
Irvin, a starting defensive back in football, made it to the state finals in wrestling last season.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him grow without me there, see what he can do,” Irvin said.