Blaine Irby: Homecoming
When the Longhorns take the field today against Arizona State in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, it will be a special landmark for a program looking to win a school-record fourth consecutive post-season game. The senior class would be the first class in Texas history to achieve such a feat. But, for one true freshman, TE Blaine Irby, today's game represents something even more special.
Prior to joining the Texas Football family, Irby and his family lived most of his life in Tempe, Ariz., home of the Sun Devils, before moving to California for the final few years of high school.
"This is really just a dream come true," said Irby. "I'm a player on the Texas football team. I get to play against Arizona State, where I lived most of my life, and I get to do it in California, where I lived my last years in high school."
On top of that, Irby's family and friends have an easy trip to Qualcomm Stadium, which is just three hours away from Ventura, Calif., where Irby finished his career at St. Bonaventure High School as a prep All-American.
"I knew at some point in my college career, I'd get to play a game on the west coast," Irby added. "I just didn't think it would happen so quickly. It is going to be really special to play in front of friends and family from both California and Arizona."
Interestingly, it was the similarity between his family and the Texas Football program that led him out of California and to Austin.
"I loved the family atmosphere at UT," explained Irby. "I spent all of my life on the west coast, but when I got to Texas, I loved everything about it and it made my decision to come play here really easy."
It also helped that Irby's mother, Michelle, works for an airline, allowing her, Irby's father Pat and his two older brothers, Brian and Brandon, to fly in and out of Austin during the season.
"We are really blessed from that standpoint," explained Irby, "because even though my parents are in California, I'm at Texas, one brother is in Nashville and one brother is going to school at Arizona State, we're still able to see each other."
For one last time this season, they'll all be back together again when the Longhorns take on the Sun Devils.
"I couldn't ask for a better way to end my first season," said Irby. "It seems like just yesterday that I was leaving in June to come to Austin, and now we're here in San Diego preparing for the bowl game. It's been a great ride and everything I hoped it would be."
Especially since his friends and family will be seeing him play with his Texas Football family.