Flashback to January 4th, 2006, the 92nd playing of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA., which also happened to be the National Championship game for the 2005-06 NCAA Football season. Vince Young and the mighty #2 Texas Longhorns stunned the world with their upset of the #1, and heavily favored, Trojans of Southern California...
In Camarillo, CA a senior at St. Bonaventure H.S., Blaine Irby, watched as the heroes of the state were stunned by the fourth quarter heroics of the great #10. He was also watching, and learning, from #16, TE David Thomas. Irby, a prep All-American LB and TE himself in H.S., was no doubt highly scouted by the in state schools, but Irby instead chose to attend the hated school in Texas.
Irby played in 11 games as a true freshman in 2007, he tallied all of 2 catches for 29 yards, and no TDs. During the off season Irby and Colt McCoy, the current quarterback for the Texas Longhorns, spent countless hours studying film of David Thomas. Irby wanted to learn how to run routes and block like a great college football tight end.
Fast forward to the 2008 season...through 3 games Irby has vastly improved. He has taken over the starting TE job in Texas, he has 10 catches for 95 yards, and 2 TDs. On pace to have a great year in the role he was brought in to fill. Then came Sep. 20th, 2008...
Texas was at home playing the Rice Owls. While on cruise control to a thorough beating of the much smaller in state school, Irby was running an out pattern in the 3rd quarter when a pass from Colt McCoy went completely through his hands. Chris Douglas, a small framed CB for the Owls went low in an attempt to tackle the much larger, 6'3" 240 lbs., Irby. He was not looking for a hit, since he had not caught the ball, his leg got hung up in the turf and his right leg was bent backwards.
After a long injury time out, the outstanding sophomore was loaded onto a cart a toted off the field; all the while throwing the ‘Hook ‘Em Horns' in the air to show the capacity crowd at DKR-Memorial Stadium that he was okay. On Monday however the news was not so great for Blaine, an MRI revealed that he had a dislocated knee cap that would require season ending surgery to repair.
It is a tragedy to see such a promising young player with great talent, such as Irby, have all of that lost in a game that meant nothing. By the time this injury occurred the Horns were well on there way to the 52-10 victory over the Owls. The defense had done a great job at shutting down the Owls after their great offensive first quarter. Not saying that Blaine will not be able to return to play TE for the Longhorns again, but will he ever be the same. Knee injuries are a tough injury to return from, ask such players as Willis McGahee, who was a phenomenal RB at the University of Miami and was hurt in his senior season.
Only time will tell if Blaine Irby will return to the Longhorns and be as productive as he should have been this year.