Land of 10 has embarked on a series of “Next Generation” articles, a project that aims to bring our readers greater insight into the class of 2017 signees. Land of 10 Michigan writers Rachel Lenzi and Kevin Goheen are hard at work visiting this year’s Michigan incoming class of freshmen to show you more than their 40-yard dash times and recruiting rankings. Rachel sat down with defensive lineman James Hudson last week, while Kevin met up with linebacker Josh Ross earlier this week. The series of profiles will debut in March. Today, we introduce you to defensive lineman Deron Irving-Bey.
FLINT, Mich. — Thursday is a strength day for Deron Irving-Bey. The senior from Flint Southwestern Academy is working out in the school’s weight room with assistant football coach Tiger Maxwell and a few teammates.
It’s not something you would have found Irving-Bey doing a couple of years ago. You definitely wouldn’t have found him here in the offseason, but a lot can change in a couple of years. It certainly has for Irving-Bey, who in the last 18 months has gone from being a raw unknown talent to a valued member of the 2017 Michigan recruiting class.
It was after his junior season that Irving-Bey first approached Maxwell about training him. Irving-Bey wanted to play football at the next level. He wasn’t thinking Michigan at that time. His cousin Nick Matiere-Bey had earned a scholarship to Austin Peay before transferring to Ferris State, so he knew going to college was possible.
Irving-Bey saw that as a way out from the struggles of Flint. He loves Flint and wants to represent his hometown well but Irving-Bey knows there is more to the world than Flint.
“I fell in love with the grind, with the offseason, with game day and the excitement of all it,” Irving-Bey said Thursday as we talked about his upbringing, his journey to Michigan and his desire to become more than just another player for the Wolverines. “I love the competition. It’s something that I grew into.”
Irving-Bey is different from most college recruits. He’s never been a sports junkie, not the way many others are. He grew up playing sports; football and basketball mainly, but he never was big on watching them. Too many other things going on to sit down and watch games.
Irving-Bey had no real idea who Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive line coach Greg Mattison were when they first started recruiting him. He didn’t know what they had done in football, but that naiveté helped their relationship grow organically.
There is something very organic about Irving-Bey. There is no sense of pretense, no attitude that he’s owed something because he’s going to Michigan.
“I remember that call. It was big game-changer,” said Maxwell, remembering back to the end of the 2015 season. “He asked me what he could do to change. I told him the first month is going to let me know if this is something you really want to do.”
Irving-Bey made it through that first month and every month since. It’s placed him on a road he never imagined 18 months ago.
I’ll have more on Irving-Bey and his journey to Michigan in his Next Generation profile. Be sure to look for it and profiles on other members of Michigan’s 2017 recruiting class when the series begins the week of March 5.