Don't tell Kansas State baseball coach Brad Hill, but the best two diamond players on campus just might be playing other sports. From Frank Martin's basketball team, Denis Clemente says he was a good enough shortstop to play for Miami University, where he started his hoop career in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Clemente just happens to be the second cousin to Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente.
The 23-year-old Irvin was a 12th-round draft choice of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2002, and spent four years in the franchise system. While his career average was just .229 with the Rookie Level Princeton Rays, located in West Virginia, Irvin had a career-high .307 average in 2003.
Out of Patterson High School in the state of Louisiana, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Irvin said the decision to go baseball was just "... too good of an opportunity for me and my family." And, it was a surprise to the family as Irvin didn't play baseball until his senior year in high school.
"I didn't believe my coaches when they told me that scouts were interested in me, but they were. I just caught the eye of a scout at the right time," Irvin said. "It just sort of happened. I was just playing because it was fun."
But in time, the center fielder said, "I learned that I liked baseball, but loved football. Tampa Bay wanted me to sign another four-year contract, but my heart just wasn't in it."
Irvin earned Louisiana all-state honors in football, basketball and baseball, plus was the class 3A long jump state champion and member of the silver-medal winning 4 x 100 relay team. Irvin, who verbally committed to LSU for football out of high school, would eventually land at Coffeyville Community College after his stint in baseball.
Playing receiver, cornerback, free safety, and even quarterback on option plays in high school, at the junior college level he was a receiver in 2006, and cornerback/punt returner in 2007.
He was second-team all-conference with 24 tackles and one interception as a sophomore, plus averaged 16.5 yards on 29 punt returns. Rivals.com listed him as a 3-Star recruit and the 50th best junior college prospect in the country.
After committing to Auburn, Irvin switched directions.
"I had become familiar with the state of Kansas, and when I came here for a visit, I really liked the atmosphere," Irvin said. Irvin is in a mix of six cornerbacks figured to vie for playing time with the Wildcats this year. That list includes Ray Cheatham, Bryan Baldwin, Joshua Moore, Billy McClellan and Otis Johnson.
"My key is to do what coach Prince has in mind for me," Irvin said. "I want to play a big part in our upcoming success. I just want to do my part and work hard." As for Prince?
"He is still learning the game of football and how to perfect his own craft," the Wildcat coach said. "But from a maturity standpoint, he's been terrific for us."