UW Roster Review, No. 2-99: Julius Irvin Begins to Resemble Leroy Irvin

The son of an NFL cornerback great, the Husky safety makes a bid for a starting job.
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Leroy Irvin was one of the finest NFL defensive backs of his time, a Pro Bowl and All-Pro cornerback.

His son, Julius, simply has needed time to even consider greatness.

A 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior from Anaheim, California, the younger Irvin and current University of Washington safety made a big move during spring practice to elevate himself in the eyes of his Husky coaches.

With both starting jobs up for grabs, Irvin became a serious contender for steady minutes along with junior Dominique Hampton, sophomore Kamren Fabiculanan and one-time first-teamers in juniors Asa Turner and Cameron Williams and senior Alex Cook.

"Julius Irvin is playing his best football, as well, since he arrived on campus," Husky coach Jimmy Lake said. "He's the same class as [starting junior cornerback] Kyler Gordon and he's probably saying to himself, 'Why not me? Why not me? Why can't I be the next great defensive back to go out there and start for the University of Washington.' "

Going down the roster in numerical order, this is another of our post-spring assessments of all of the Husky talent at hand, gleaned from a month of observations, as a way to keep everyone engaged during the offseason.

The younger Irvin wears No. 29 for the Huskies, sharing it with walk-on wide receiver Charlie Fuller.

 

After dealing with a knee and shoulder injuries when he first came to the UW and getting beat a few times for touchdown passes in last year's Arizona game, 

Julius now resembles what everyone first envisioned for him — more like Leroy Irvin.

"We all know he had an injury that was kind of hindering him a little bit," defensive-backs coach Will Harris said of Irvin. "Now he's fully healthy and, man, he's been on one, just as far as being locked in."

Leroy Irvin, who wore No. 47 during his 11 seasons for the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions, was known as "the Iceman" after intercepting 35 passes and returning 5 of them for NFL touchdowns. He was a four-time All-Pro selection, twice a Pro Bowler.

A University of Kansas product and much smaller dimensions than his son at 5-foot-11 and 184 pounds, Leroy still holds the NFL record for most punt-return yardage in a game, piling up an amazing 207 against the Atlanta Falcons in 1981.

Julius Irvin emerged from Southern California carrying those famous family football genes and a heady reputation as a player. A 4-star recruit at Servite High School, he chose the Huskies over USC, Notre Dame, Michigan and Alabama, with Crimson Tide fans playfully calling him "Dr. J" on their message boards when he came to the South for a visit.

Now he's ready to resemble a disruptor on his own rather than answer to a name that describes an NBA legend.

"He's been out there flying around and making plays," Lake said. "Now he's just got to be more consistent."

The opportunity is there for Julius Irvin to step in and start for the Huskies, and not wonder why he isn't. 

And, of course, make Leroy Irvin proud.

Irvin's 2021 Outlook: Free-safety starting candidate

UW Service Time: Played in 12 games

Stats: 2 tackles

Individual Honors: None yet

Pro prospects: 2023 third-day NFL draftee

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