Hart alumni embracing NFL journey

Hart High grad Trent Irwin grasps the ball against Rice at Stanford Stadium on November 26, 2016. Photo courtesy StanfordPhoto.com

While the 2019 NFL Draft was going on, Hart alumnus Trent Irwin wasn’t watching. Instead, he was outside shooting some hoops for most of it.

“I didn’t want to watch,” Irwin said. “I didn’t want to sit there thinking, ‘This might be me.’ You can’t invest a certain amount of work ethic into achieving a higher draft pick because it’s all based off their subjective opinion of you.”

When he wasn’t going for a corner 3, the slot receiver was on his phone, chatting with coaches and scouts from various NFL teams through the sixth and seventh rounds. He went undrafted but before the draft was even over, he received a phone call with a voice on the other line that said:

“Congratulations, you’re a Dolphin.”

Irwin, who just finished his career at Stanford with 152 catches, 1,178 receiving yards and five touchdowns, signed as an undrafted free agent and will leave for Florida on Thursday to compete for a spot on the roster. There were no receivers in the Dolphins’ 2019 draft class.

“It’s always been a goal since a young kid,” Irwin said. “I’m a little bit torn between wanting to be drafted and having the opportunity to go out and compete for a spot. I’m torn every which way there, but I can’t wait to get after it and it’ll be fun.”

The scouting process was a difficult one for Irwin. A Grade 3 MCL tear that occurred in the final game of the Cardinal’s 2018 regular season lasted long enough to keep him out of drills for Stanford’s pro day in early April.

With no choice but to rest, Irwin approached training from a different perspective. He watched film in order to better explain his thought processes and actions when it came to meeting with coaches and scouts.

He also read a few books, including “The Warrior Within: The Philosophies of Bruce Lee to Better Understand the World Around You and Achieve a Rewarding Life,” trying to improve his mindset in any way that might give him an edge.

“It wasn’t a lot of fun,” Irwin said. “I’ve never really been hurt, so for me, it was all those things where I had to learn a lot of patience and I tried to develop other sides of my game that maybe I wouldn’t focus on when I was healthy.”

Along with Irwin, fellow Hart alumnus Davis Koppenhaver signed as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers. At Duke as a tight end, Koppenhaver had his best season in his senior year with 14 receptions for seven touchdowns and 115 yards.

Irwin, Koppenhaver and Tim White, a receiver who went undrafted in 2017 but signed a deal with the Baltimore Ravens, were all on the 2011 Hart roster that reached the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs.

“It’s awesome to see everyone grow and evolve into how they are, what shapes them into being what type of person, player they are,” Irwin said. “That roster, three players playing in the NFL, I don’t think a lot of high school teams can say that, especially on the receiving corps.

“It’s unique, I think there’s a lot of hard-working people at that level and it’s people who are wanting to stay resilient and whatever hits them, keep working and find a way to make it happen.”

Irwin leaves Santa Clarita later this week for Miami, where he’ll compete in training camp and OTAs after that. He’s eager to prove himself, but also knows the best approach can sometimes be a relaxed one.

“I’m going to have fun. I’m going to be the hardest worker whether it’s watching film, talking to coaches out on the field, catching jugs,” he said. “It’s figuring out what they want me to do and be able to do it.

“It’s a job, but at the end of the day it’s a job I love to do. I think I perform the best when I’m having fun, so that’s my mentality out there.”

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