Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Sean Irwin and his twin Jeromy were not going to leave Texas without one another.
They found the perfect home together with the University of Colorado football program, though as it turns out the Irwins have spent a relatively sparse amount of time together on the field since arriving in Boulder more than four years ago.
With five games remaining in the season — four in the regular season, plus a likely bowl date — in addition to a possible appearance in the Pac-12 Conference championship game, the beginning of the end is at hand for the Irwin twins as teammates.
As the Buffs attempt to remain sharp during a bye week ahead of Thursday night’s matchup against UCLA at Folsom Field, the extra down time has allowed a few moments of reflection for the twins from Cypress, Texas, who had been a part of just 11 wins in four seasons before this year’s 6-2 start.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” said Sean Irwin, a senior tight end. “He’s been injured a lot, so we played together more in high school than we have in college. I don’t have my hand on the ground (next to Jeromy) too much. I mainly come out the backfield, but I’ve been next to him a little bit.
“It’s been great. It’s been fun. It stinks it’s coming to an end, but everything comes to an end.”
During the Irwins’ true freshman season of 2012, Sean redshirted while Jeromy served as a backup along the offensive line. They were slated to play together in 2013 before a broken foot suffered by Jeromy Irwin just before preseason camp ended up robbing him of the entire year.
That finally changed in 2014. Jeromy Irwin started 11 games at left tackle, while Sean balanced his role as a blocking tight end by recording seven catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. The twins were looking for more of the same in 2015, but Jeromy Irwin suffered his second season-ending injury in two seasons, this time tearing his ACL in the second game of the year against Massachusetts. Sean Irwin posted a career-best 15 receptions for 248 yards.
“When we first came here, we started off on different pages and I didn’t catch up until last year,” Jeromy Irwin said. “He redshirted freshman year and I played. And so we got off-whack. It’s kind of weird knowing he’s not going to be here.”
Fate has intervened to allow both twins to play integral roles during CU’s breakout season this fall. Jeromy Irwin has started all eight games at left tackle, anchoring an offensive line that has helped CU to rank 18th in the nation in total offense (495.8 yards per game). While Sean Irwin still is seeking his first reception in an offense that rarely targets tight ends in the passing game, his blocking skills have been an integral part of a ground game averaging 216 yards per game.
“It’s life-changing,” Sean Irwin said. “I’ve been here for five years, and we’ve almost won as many games. Especially being here with Jeromy.”
Jeromy Irwin received a medical hardship last year, allowing for a sixth season of eligibility next year if he decides to return. The veteran tackle made it clear he remains undecided about returning for a sixth season, though he admits returning to campus for an additional degree while playing for what should still be a high-powered offense is an attractive option.
For his part, Sean Irwin already has begun making plans for a life without football (and his twin) by getting engaged.
“Taking a sixth year, it’s not a bad deal,” Jeromy Irwin said. “Finishing up a second degree, having more time getting stronger. I have no clue what I’m going to do, but we’ll see.”