Irabor ready to ‘shock the world'

After two seasons that have showed a lot of promise, but some inconsistent play down the stretch, cornerback Osahon Irabor is ready to make a name for himself in 2012. If does surprise some people in the process, so be it.

"This being my junior year, I definitely think I need to take the next step," Irabor said, "that's always been my goal. This is going to be my third year so it's time to crank it up a bit."

Head Coach Todd Graham believes Irabor is on the cusp of being an elite level player, crediting the corner's work ethic for his fall camp performance.

"[Osahon] He is solid, he's like a sponge, one of the smartest guys I've been around," Graham commented, "[and] he wants to be great, he studies nonstop, he's a good corner who wants to be great, he's a leader for us over there [the secondary] for sure."

After a year in which the secondary of the Sun Devils was under heavy scrutiny for fading in the second half of the season, all eyes will be on this unit to start the year on a sharp note and more importantly be consistent.

Osahon Irabor realizes this and is certain that 2011 can be used as a valuable learning experience.

"We take the criticism in stride, [because] that's definitely what happened." Irabor said of last season's struggles down the stretch. "We fell apart as a team, as a defense and as a family. We just need to learn from that experience. [Alden] Darby, Keelan [Johnson], Deveron [Carr] and I were all on the team last year. We all started off the year so strong and to see it all slip away shows that you can't be complacent.

"We will be playing with a sense of urgency this season."

With most of the experts expecting the ASU defense to be ranked in the bottom half of the PAC 12 this year, Irabor is eager to prove them wrong.

"Of course we use it for motivation, being the underdog is great motivation," Irabor admitted. "We are just trying to get better every day and trying to shock the world. I want to win. I want to win the Pac-12 Championship and be able to tell that to my kids. I want to win for the school and for the fans.

"If we do our part on defense we will have a greater chance for success."

One of the reasons Irabor feels confident of the team's prospects, is due to the new defensive scheme that has been put in place. It's a system that is predicated on deception and aggressiveness, and also one that is tailor made to Irabor's skills.

"Our defense is going to be awesome!" Irabor exclaimed. "They (opponents) are going to have no idea what [scheme] we are in. Coach Graham is a genius and great defensive mind and our new scheme will fit our players skill sets well. We can't wait to show it [defense] on the field.

"I am really good at getting out of my break. This defensive scheme suits me well and plays to my strengths. The quarterback won't know what technique I am playing in and will have to think twice before letting that ball loose."

Another reason why opposing quarterbacks may have a reason to pause against the Sun Devil secondary, is the emphasis that this group has put this season on being opportunistic and creating game changing plays. The motto of ‘owning the ball' is one that has been stressed early and often since fall camp began.

"As a secondary we want to cause more fumbles this year" Irabor said. "We want to cause more turnovers this year and that's not just interceptions, we need to be very physical this year. Whether it's against the run or screens, we need to be more physical and make sure we own the ball."

Irabor admitted that the culture change under Graham has been difficult, but added that the team's strength and conditioning summer program, headed by Coach Shawn Griswold, helped prepare them for this year's fall camp and all of the various challenges it will bring.

"We were on a different program this summer and it's a very good program," Irabor stated. "Coach Griswold did a great job with all of us. It's definitely a grind, but as a defense we are embracing the grind and trying to get better and become closer every day.

"Personally I feel like I'm getting better every day and I've been very consistent. It's been a good camp and I just to need to keep it up."

Irabor is naturally not the only player in his group having a strong camp, and while his starting job isn't in jeopardy he sees the position battles in the secondary as nothing but a positive means to a successful end.

"I think competition is great, it makes everyone better," Irabor commented. "There always has to be competition. That's what makes the team better and that's what helps you win championships."

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