Deron Irving-Bey: very large human [Nasternak/MGoBlog]
The crystal ball may not reflect it just yet, but it seems that Michigan’s interest in Flint Southwestern SDE Deron Irving-Bey has risen of late, and vice versa. David and I took the opportunity to travel to Davison to take in the best game left on Irving-Bey’s schedule; Davison’s long been a local power with good linemen, and they had a right tackle who could provide something of a challenge for Irving-Bey.
Though lining up across from Davison RT Zach Slezak did provide an intriguing, back-and-forth matchup, the game itself was, uh, not as intriguing. Southwestern fell to Davison 42-6, dropping them to 0-4 on the season. Davison was perfectly content to hand the ball to running back Tariq Reid, a 2018 recruit who has exploded this season with 16 TDs in four games and a 200+ yard per game average. He understandably spent most of the game running to the side opposite the defense’s only D-I recruit. Irving-Bey did what he could to get involved in stopping the run; whether this was at the expense of his pass rush is a question for a different game, but he did look good in pursuit. That was good for Irving-Bey as it relates to our scouting, but infrequent enough that it was ultimately inconsequential for Southwestern considering the numerous other paths Davison had to the end zone.
[After THE JUMP: Irving-Bey video and scouting]
2017 SDE #52 Deron Irving-Bey (M offer)
An inauspicious start quickly turned positive before the first snap of the highlight video even ended; Irving-Bey looked like he lost his block after being double teamed on the first play, but as the RT falls off he ragdolls the TE and closes quickly on the running back. That’s when things got weird.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have no idea what’s happening from 00:27 to 1:03 of the above video, and I won’t pretend to. These plays are ordered chronologically, and though two nothing snaps were excluded it’s worth noting to dispel any notion that I might have created a weird cut-block supercut. I asked Ace if he’d ever seen anything like this in his time scouting and he hadn’t, though he posited that Irving-Bey might have been doing so to prevent the tackle from jetting out on a screen. A review of the tape shows no screens, so…[shruggie]. Some of their other D-linemen were doing it at various points in the game, so I think it’s a coaching thing. I guess it could ostensibly be to cut down the O-linemen and prevent them from getting to the second level, thus keeping the linebackers clean. I’m not sure.
When they weren’t running left from under center, Davison liked to option Irving-Bey. Leaving him unblocked didn’t work out that well, as he was able to quickly get into the backfield and identify the ballcarrier. His on-field awareness was obvious; 1:41 is a good example, as he takes out a TE without losing track of the RB, then has to pick through garbage and pursue to the opposite sideline. Irving-Bey was strong in the run game, often getting off a block and initiating or assisting on a tackle (good examples come at 2:26 and 2:35). When he made contact he stuck, wrapping up a back and pulling him down instead of trying to pop someone shoulder-first.
Irving-Bey didn’t display any pass rush moves, and he really didn’t get much push. While Irving-Bey didn’t outright lose a block more than a handful of times, he often fought Slezak to a stalemate. That’s not all that alarming, as Slezak is 6’4”, 275 pounds, and moves well. The play at 2:15 is representative of quite a few that didn’t make the final cut.
Even when Slezak (or Slezak and a TE) got a solid block on Irving-Bey, there was a chance he’d escape. One of Irving-Bey’s best assets is his athleticism, and he uses that well when the opposition is engaged. At 1:55 he’s doubled and shoved off the line, but he’s able to use their momentum against them, swimming over and getting off the block. At 2:55 the right tackle gets under Irving-Bey’s pads, but he’s able to spin off the block and would probably have a shot at getting to the running back if he hadn’t tripped over his own teammate. At 3:03 Slezak appears to blow back Irving-Bey, but Irving-Bey uses his momentum against him to fling him out of the way before absorbing and bouncing off another block and wrapping up the RB. There’s a nice blend of football IQ and athletic ability at work in these clips.
Irving-Bey’s going to have to get stronger at the point of attack in college. That’s not a huge surprise; like improving pad level, most SDEs need to get stronger when they get to college. The other thing that didn’t particularly stand out in this viewing was Irving-Bey’s quickness off the snap. He wasn’t much faster off the ball than his teammates, but he was able to make up for some of that with his ability to escape blocks, recognize, and pursue. At 6’5” and 282 pounds, Irving-Bey has the frame of a Big Ten strongside defensive end. The elements of his game that stand out are the ones that are most difficult to improve and certainly the ones that take longer to develop; he’s a guy who may have redshirted under a past regime simply to add muscle, but who might get limited snaps should he end up a freshman Anchor in a Don Brown defense because of his ability to diagnose plays.