NFL Combine: Hillcrest alum Bucky Irving ready to put on a show

Irving ranked one of top running backs in nation

Oregon running back Bucky Irving celebrates after his touchdown against Washington State with offensive lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson, right, and offensive lineman Steven Jones, back, during the first half, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, in Eugene, Ore.

INDIANAPOLIS – Bucky Irving took a moment Friday to take in his surroundings.

Before him stood reporters in the Indianapolis Convention Center at the NFL Combine ready to ask about his future and what he’s going to do to achieve his dreams. But in Irving’s mind, he already achieved them Friday with a chance to show NFL teams why they should draft him.

“It’s just a blessing,” Irving said.

Irving enters the combine ready to fulfill a dream he’s had since he was 6 years old. He’s considered to be one of the top-ranked running backs in the nation, many draft experts listing Irving in the top five.

But Irving wasn’t too worried about where he ranks amongst his peers, a quality that he learned during his time at Hillcrest High School, located in south suburban Country Club Hills. Irving credited former Hillcrest football coach Morgan Weaver with humbling him when he joined the team.

Many national colleges were interested in recruiting Irving, but Weaver told him to not worry about recruiting rankings. Instead, he told Irving, focus on yourself.

“When I got to the next level, I was always humble,” Irving said. “My success is everyone’s success in my world. If I have success, I feel like all my guys have success.”

Irving had success as an explosive back first at Minnesota before transferring to Oregon the last two seasons. He rushed for 699 yards and four touchdowns with the Golden Gophers in 2021 before rushing for 1,058 yards, five touchdowns and 1,180, 11 touchdowns the last two seasons, respectively.

“It’s just a blessing.”

—  Bucky Irving, Oregon running back
Bucky Irving

Irving also has shown an ability to catch the ball, primarily at Oregon. He caught 31 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore and brought in 56 passes for 413 yards and two touchdowns.

At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, some have wondered whether he can take the hits needed to keep up in today’s NFL. Irving fought back against that notion and said teams haven’t asked him about switching out to the wide receiver position.

“I get that a lot,” Irving said. “I look at guys like Devin Singletary, Barry Sanders, guys like that. If they did it, I can do it.”

Irving plans to let his workouts at the combine Saturday do the talking for him. He learned from an early age at Hillcrest that he needs to focus on himself and the rest will come his way.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some motivation while taking in the moment.

“I always had that underdog mentality,” Irving said. “I have a chip on my shoulders at all times.”