ORLANDO, Fla. – There was once a time when Georgia coach Mark Richt preferred to look the other way when recruiting players from junior college.
But thanks to seniors Corvey Irvin and Jarius Wynn, along with junior and fellow GMC alum Vince Vance, that's no longer the case.
The success enjoyed by the former Georgia Military trio during the two years they spent at Georgia has helped to open Richt's eyes, and not shy away from recruiting players from other two-year schools.
For example, Georgia coaches have been hot after a number of nationally ranked JUCO standouts, including wide receiver Cameron Kenney from Garden City CC and Itawamba defensive end Pernell McPhee.
The Bulldogs were also were after kicker Jake Harfman before he verbally committed to Southern Cal, but if not for the respective impacts of Wynn and Irvin, it's doubtful Georgia coaches would have even tried.
"Those two young men have done everything we've asked of them and more," Richt said. "Not only have they been great players, but they've been great people and representatives of this university, too. We're going to miss them."
Irvin and Wynn both say they'll miss Georgia as well.
"It's been great, everything I could have asked for," said Wynn, who started six of 12 games for the Bulldogs at defensive end. "I'm just glad I was able to make the impact that I did."
Ditto for Irvin.
When starting defensive tackle Jeff Owens went down in the opener with a torn ACL, it was Irvin who stepped up, both literally as the new starter along sideGeno Atkins, and later as the vocal leader, a role Owens filled so well his junior campaign.
"It's sad that I only had a two-year deal here, but it would have been that way anywhere I went," Irvin said. "But I picked Georgia. It was the best place for me to come. I got to play, I started and I made plays. I'm still pretty overwhelmed with the way things turned out."
Irvin still shakes his head with disappointment over Georgia's just-completed regular-season campaign, particularly the loss to Georgia Tech.
A moment later, a large grin covers his face, as he recalls the Bulldogs' win over Florida in 2007, before ruffling his brow while thinking of Georgia's 49-10 loss in Jacksonville earlier this year.
"It's hard to believe that it's almost over but right now I'm concentrating on getting this victory, getting this 10th win over Michigan State," Irvin said. "My time is done. I've done what I had to do at Georgia and now it's time to do something else."
Both Irvin and Wynn have their sights set on the NFL.
"We'll see what happens," said Wynn. "I know I'd like to get a shot."
Irvin will definitely get his. Along with teammates Mohamed Massaquoi, Irvin will take part in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala., used by the NFL as one of its most important scouting tools heading into February's NFL Combines.
"Everybody wants to go to the NFL," Irvin said. "I just live my life one day at a time and when my chance comes I'll be there to accept it."
And if not?
"I have my degree (Child and Family Development) so I'll go find a job with my degree," he said. "I want to work with kids. Maybe I'll get into coaching, do something to put that spark in some young kid's eyes like some mentors of mind did for me. I want to do great things."
With a young 16 month old son (Corvey Jr.), a younger brother and a number of other young relatives, Irvin welcomes the opportunity to be a role model and touch as many lives as he can.
"I'm a father. I have a little boy and I want to be a great role model to him. I have younger cousins, I have a baby brother and they like what I do," he said. "I see how they look up to me and when I go to elementary schools and read to young kids. I see how their eyes light up when I come in the room. That makes me feel good that I've been able to have the sort of impact."