New California defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander and the father of his newest offeree -- safety Julius Irvin -- have something in common: Both spent significant time in the NFL as cornerbacks, Alexander for five years, and LeRoy Irvin, a bit longer -- 10 years, with two Pro Bowl selections.
Julius Irvin knows the value of that NFL experience, so when, after a few days of communicating back and forth, Alexander extended an offer, Julius Irvin was all ears.
"We had been talking for a couple of days, just getting to know each other," Julius Irvin said. "He liked my film and thinks I'm a great man, so, he told me to call him, then he made the offer."
As for Alexander's pro credentials?
"It's a plus," Julius Irvin said. "It's really cool to be coached by someone who has made it too the top."
He should know. Irvin and his father have been working closely together for the last year.
It's funny, because growing up, I didn't even think about the NFL," Julius Irvin said. "It was a far-fetched dream. When I went into high school I was like, 'Wow, I can really do this.' So, I told my dad, right before my sophomore season, 'I want to go to the NFL. This is all I want.'"
LeRoy Irvin had a simple response: "Let's get to work."
The two grind through intense one-on-one workouts, and no quarter is given.
"[It's] real competitive," Julius Irvin said. "We trash talk a little bit."
There has been one consistent lesson throughout the training: "The best lesson he has taught me was work ethic. He said, 'Outwork everybody.'"
Though Julius Irvin tore the meniscus in his left knee early in the season, he came back after surgery and racked up 54 tackles for Anaheim (Calif.) Servite in just seven games, with two tackles for loss, one pas defended, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles.
"I'm back too 100 percent," he said. "It was a small tear in my meniscus. It wasn't big enough for them to remove it."
He was healthy enough to put his knee though the paces of punt and kick returns, as well, taking back four kickoffs for 109 yards, and six punts for 79 yards. His averages of 27.3 yards (KOR) and 13.2 yards (PR) were the best on the team. Despite returning 11 fewer kickoffs than defensive backfield-mate and Washington signee Keith Taylor, he had just under half as many yards on take-backs (Taylor had 255).
Irvin has earned five Pac-12 offers (including one from the Huskies, and another from Colorado, which signed Friars quarterback Tyler Lytle) and one from his father's alma mater, Kansas, but the Bears have something else in their favor, besides Alexander.
"The education stands out," Julius Irvin said. "[I'm] making a 40-year decision instead of a four[-year decision]."
Julius Irvin currently holds a 3.1 GPA, and a few other notable numbers. Irvin is currently ramping up to run track, this spring. He runs the 400-meter, the 4x400 relay, the 200-meter and the 4x100 relay, with personal bests of 22.3 seconds in the 200, 10.9 seconds in the 100 and 49.8 seconds in the 400. At some point soon, he'll carve out time between meets to visit Berkeley.
"I want to come out in the spring," he said. "I'll have to talk to my parents about it."