RENTON, Wash. -- B.J. Irvin couldn't stay out of trouble as a youth. So when he arrived at Mt. San Antonio College in Southern California in 2009, B.J. became Bruce.
And while Bruce Irvin hasn't been completely clear of off-the-field problems, his freakish athleticism landed him a spot in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night.
The Seattle Seahawks pulled off a major first-round stunner when they selected Irvin, a pass-rushing specialist out of West Virginia, with the 15th overall pick after trading with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The surprise wasn't that Irvin was drafted. Despite his size (6-foot-3 and 245 pounds) and explosive speed off the edge, Irvin was considered a likely second-day pick, especially with well-known names like Quinton Coples, Melvin Ingram and Chandler Jones still available when the Seahawks' pick arrived.
But that didn't stop the Seahawks from taking the player they believe can have the most impact at a spot where they need help.
"This is the kind of guy that puts fear in offensive tackles," coach Pete Carroll said of Irvin, who had 14 sacks as a junior at West Virginia and another 8.5 sacks in his final season.
Growing up in Atlanta, Irvin was academically ineligible to play high school football and did a stint in juvenile jail for burglary. Irvin said it would have been easy to stay down the road of trouble, but he took a divergent path.
"I could have went the other way," Irvin said. "I could have gone right, but I chose to go left. When I chose to go left, I told God I wasn't going back to what was trying to suck me in, and I surrounded myself with a lot of positive people."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press