MORGANTOWN - Bruce Irvin has a hobby that is supposed to relax and educate him.
"I like to read," West Virginia University's senior defensive end said.
He's been reading and he doesn't like what he's been seeing lately.
Last week, Rivals.com said Irvin was the most overrated football player in the Big East.
"He is receiving plenty of preseason attention for his 14 sacks last season, but he still has work to do to become a postseason All-American," David Fox wrote.
"His sack numbers are great, but he was a pass-rush specialist who didn't start a game last season. This season, he will start. And though he has bulked up to 235 pounds, his ability to stand in against the run is a big question."
Irvin rolls his eyes and wonders if that notoriety isn't a contradiction.
"I don't understand how you can be overrated playing 200 plays and having 14 sacks," he said, reciting his numbers from last season.
He's nevertheless used to this. Preseason guru Phil Steel ranked Irvin as the 38th best defensive end in the country. Irvin pretty much laughs at that.
"I don't even know 37 other defensive ends in the whole nation," he said.
Perhaps Irvin could avoid the frustrations by staying away from the magazines and the articles and the rankings. That wouldn't be Irvin, who believes he's worked too hard and come too far from his rough background in Stone Mountain, Ga., and crowded apartment paying his own way in junior college.
He likes that he's generated positive attention and tries to make good use of the negative, which if he doesn't find, a friend or family member does.
"I like seeing what people think," he said. "That stuff really motivates me at practice. I might be tired and want to slack a little, but I think about message boards or articles about me being overrated and I think, 'No, I've got to go get it.' So I use it as a motivational tool. But I know it is what it is, and I do like to read."
Irvin would rather save the ratings for the end of the season, though he knows this season will be different because he's no secret now and will be targeted every game. The way he evaluates himself will probably differ from the way others do when they write.
"I want to do better than I did last year," he said. "Of course, I want to have more than 22 tackles this year, but I want to end this thing, my senior season, on a better note than the seniors did last year. Of course, I want to have 20, 25 sacks, but at the end of the day, it's about winning and it's about this team."
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IT MIGHT BE that Dana Holgorsen holds receivers to a very, very high standard because they are the key parts to his passing offense, but the WVU coach is low on praise for that group.
"I don't know how guys get worse from the spring, but it looks to me like a couple of them got worse," he said.
Consistency is thus far the most common gripe, but Holgorsen and the position coaches - outside receiver coach Daron Roberts and inside receivers coach Shannon Dawson - are suddenly aiming at ball security.