By Mark Jungman
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
"In the moment, it was crazy." Iowa State defensive end David Irving said. "It was such a huge rush, I can't really explain it."
It was a big play. Iowa State was holding a 30-23 lead at TCU on October 6 in Fort Worth. TCU faced second and eight at its 31-yard line. Horned Frog quarterback Trevone Boykin attempted a pass that Irving blocked and then intercepted. The sophomore returned the ball 20 yards for a touchdown that gave the Cyclones a 37-23 lead with 7:51 left in the game.
Irving's exceptional play helped Iowa State to a 37-23 victory that ended TCU's 12-game win streak and 25-game conference win skein.
"I had made a conscious decision to play David more," Iowa State defensive ends coach Curtis Bray said. "He was making good strides in practice and it looked like a good time to get him in the game."
At 6-7, 280 pounds, one would think Irving was a power forward for Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg's Cyclone basketball team. Instead, Irving uses his daunting size and outrageous wingspan to rush quarterbacks as a defensive end.
At a young age, the then much smaller Irving knew he had athleticism in his blood. His mother, Kimberly Irving, formally Kimberly Thompson, played basketball for California.
"I wasn't always this big," Irving said. "In ninth grade I was about 5-foot, 10-inches," Irving said. "My junior year I shot up six inches."
In high school, Irving played a little football his freshman year, but it was really his senior season that he started to become the dominant player you see today. He maintained a 3.0 GPA throughout his junior and senior years of high school.
Irving brings serious size to Iowa State's defensive line. Combine that with his speed and long arms, Irving is a force in the making. In 2011, he played in nine games and recorded five tackles and two pass breakups. Through six games this fall, Irving has 11 tackles including seven solo stops, a pass deflection and the interception.
Understanding the game better is the main thing to which Irving credits his development. He now has a better read of the calls and realizes the level he has to compete at every day.
"I'm a lot stronger, faster, smarter than I was my first year," Irving said.
Cyclone head coach Paul Rhoads thinks Irving is capable of greatness.
"I expect him to play hard every play," Rhoads said. "I challenge him every day in practice to play with urgency," Rhoads said.
Irving is working hard each day to get better.
"I have the skills and the ability to be a big contributor to our defense," Irving said. "I am constantly striving to improve," Irving said.
There is still time for more development and Iowa State fans are hoping his big play against TCU is just the tip of the iceberg.