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Oklahoma football: The day Bronson Irwin's OU dream came to school

BRONSON IRWIN — Oklahoma's newest starting offensive lineman was one huge third grader and Sooner fan the day the first Mustang High School player ever to earn an OU football scholarship came to his classroom. Here's the story of that chance meeting and what it means today.
by Jason Kersey Published: August 15, 2012

“He was really someone I looked up to,” Irwin said.

And what's not to admire? Burcham walked on at OU after his Mustang High career, earned a scholarship and eventually became as reliable a player as Oklahoma had, delivering snaps to quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up Josh Heupel.

Today, Burcham is filled with hometown pride by Irwin, who is the first Mustang player to earn his OU football scholarship right out of high school.

“Mustang has a history of producing some good linemen, but he's really the first guy to sign out of high school with OU,” Burcham said. “To me, that's a big, big deal. As a lineman and a Mustang grad, I'm proud of him.”

After that visit to his sister's third-grade class, Burcham began a coaching and teaching career that led him to his current post at Coweta, where he leads the Class 5A football team.

Through his career journey, though, Burcham stayed in touch with Irwin on occasion, giving advice and providing guidance when warranted.

Burcham remembers speaking at the Mustang football banquet Irwin's senior year, after he'd already committed to OU.

“I talked to him a little about your first year,” Burcham said, “just the little things about how to work hard and get ready to prove yourself.”

Irwin remember his junior season when Burcham came back to give Mustang's pregame chapel speech.

“It's not really frequent,” Irwin said of their contact, “but it's good to know if I need to talk to him about something, I can just give him a call.

“He has a lot of good advice for me.”

The serendipitous friendship began with Irwin's football-playing career in its infancy and Burcham's days removed from its grand finale, which is why he brought his guilt-ridden sister flowers.

King had missed the Orange Bowl, the only game Burcham ever played in without his sister in attendance.

Her absence was completely justified; King was nine months pregnant and forbidden by doctors from traveling.

That didn't make her feel any less guilty. She even sent her husband to South Beach, hoping her good mojo was transferrable.

Maybe it was; maybe it wasn't. The Sooners dominated Florida State, 13-2, to win their seventh national title, and Burcham's snaps were, as usual, spot on.

If she had been in the crowd, though, would Burcham have felt compelled to make that surprise visit? Would he have ever met Bronson Irwin? Would his son be called by a different name today?

“It's just funny how they had that little relationship back in third grade, and now Bronson is starting for OU,” said King, who still keeps in touch with Irwin.

“What are the odds?”

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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