Arizona State’s junior cornerback Osahon Irabor wants—and expects—to be an elite defensive player in the Pac-12 Conference. But during his first two seasons as a Sun Devil, Irabor experienced his share of ups and downs. He was part of an ASU secondary that drew criticism for faltering in the second half of the 2011 season, and entered this year’s campaign determined to prove the critics wrong.
“[In 2011] we fell apart as a team, as a defense and as a family. We just need to learn from that experience. [Alden] Darby, Keelan [Johnson], Deveron [Carr] and I were all on the team last year. We all started off the year so strong and to see it all slip away shows that you can’t be complacent. We will be playing with a sense of urgency this season,” said Irabor.
He continued, “Of course we use [criticism] for motivation, being the underdog is great motivation. We are just trying to get better every day and trying to shock the world. I want to win. I want to win the Pac-12 Championship and be able to tell that to my kids. I want to win for the school and for the fans. If we do our part on defense we will have a greater chance for success.”
Irabor is used to high expectations. In 2011, he started every game for Arizona State at the cornerback position, finishing in the team’s top ten in total tackles. Irabor had a season-high nine tackles (five solo) at Illinois and registered the only interception of the season in ASU’s win over Oregon State. He also had six tackles and a pass break-up in the Homecoming game against Colorado, as well as seven tackles (six solo) in the Territorial Cup vs. Arizona.
Irabor is a 2009 graduate of Upland (Calif.) High School and was one of the most talented recruits among ASU’s 2009 signing class. A standout defensive back and wide receiver at Upland, he gained attention for his excellent ball-handling skills, acceleration (4.37 40-yard dash) and athleticism (40-inch vertical leap). Irabor was ranked as the No. 21 cornerback recruit in the nation by ESPN Scouts, Inc., and was regarded as a four-star prospect and a member of the “Rivals 250″ list by Rivals.com.
Irabor has found a home in Coach Todd Graham’s new defensive scheme, which relies heavily on deception and aggressiveness. “I am really good at getting out of my break. This defensive strategy suits me well and plays to my strengths,” he said. “The quarterback won’t know what technique I am playing in and will have to think twice before letting that ball loose!”