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Irons brothers plan to keep family's NFL tradition alive

It doesn't take much to light the competitive fire of David and Kenny Irons.

Just hand them the controls of an XBox or a PlayStation and watch the sparks fly.

The brothers, Dacula grads and fresh off standout college careers at Auburn, jaw at each other constantly in good fun, but maybe never more than when they square off in video games. They both want to win. And when they're winning, they tell the other about it.

It's hilarious to watch, and at the same time it's a way they show brotherly love.

There's no doubt the brothers will trade jabs today at Dacula High School as a crowd of Irons, Dacula and Auburn supporters gather for an NFL Draft party in honor of the two former Gwinnett stars. But deep down, they will be pulling for each other on a stressful draft day and hoping for the best when NFL teams begin making their selections.

"Yeah, you're nervous," said David Irons, an All-SEC cornerback this past season at Auburn. "You don't know which teams want you, don't want you. You're nervous, but at the same time it's part of it. I hope we both get picked high. We're just going to have a fun time. We're looking forward to spending time with a lot of our old friends at Dacula. It should be a lot of fun."

It also may come as a relief, the culmination of a nerve-racking day and a long journey to meet Irons family expectations.

From an early age, the brothers knew they were supposed to succeed in football. At least nine of their family members have played NFL and/or major college football, so the pressure came with the Irons name.

They may not have focused too much on that pressure while they were youngsters in Voorhees (N.J.) and East Point, but when they got to Dacula High School the heat was on.

"It has been our dream (to play in the NFL)," said Kenny, a two-time All-SEC running back at Auburn. "All the connections we have with Gerald, Jarrett, Grant, Paul, my dad. Growing up we knew we had the potential to be at that level one day if we kept working hard, working hard. Now

having the chance to be on the same stage as those guys, it's a blessing.

"There was pressure. If you're an Irons, you've got to be athletic, play some kind of sport, do something. We've always excelled in that aspect of life. We're very blessed to have talent like that."

The Gerald he speaks of is Gerald Irons, his uncle who played 10 NFL seasons in the 1970s. David Irons Sr., the brothers' father, also spent a few seasons with the Detroit Lions.

It took exceptional efforts for the Irons to surpass even their cousins, current NFL players Grant Irons and Paul Irons, as well as former Michigan All-American Jarrett Irons. David and Kenny backed up their lineage with successful college careers, but now there's another step.

It's not that rare for brothers to be selected in the same NFL Draft, but some don't pan out. Others, like the running back-defensive back combo of Tiki and Ronde Barber, emerge as stars.

"I feel like we're going to take the Irons name to a higher level," David said. "No offense to those (other Irons) guys, they've done pretty well. I just think we're going to take the Irons name to a higher peak."

The brothers, who trained for the draft in Duluth, had good workouts with NFL teams and have college success behind them. But that guarantees nothing today, as college football players anxiously await word on their future. It's just as tough on the rest of family.

"I'm nervous, it's stressful for real," David Irons Sr. said of his sons' draft day. "It has to be one of the most stressful days for anybody involved. All the magazines, all the pre-draft stuff, that doesn't mean anything now. Forget all that stuff.

"But if all goes as planned, David and Kenny will be the next from the Irons family in the NFL. They could be the highest drafted players in the family. They'll be the first drafted players from Dacula. If they just get a shot to play in the NFL, I'll be happy."

Kenny, a 5-foot-11, 204-pound running back figures to be the first brother selected today. The family's been told he could be selected as high as No. 12 in the first round, or he could fall into the second round depending on how today shakes out. His older brother, David, projects to be a likely first-day pick, either in the second or third round.

"I think our draft day is going to be pretty positive," David Sr. said. "They played in the SEC at Auburn. They played big in the big games. In the big games, one of those guys made a play. Even in a losing effort, you knew they were on the field. I feel a little bit better when (scouts) say a large part of the decision is based on game film, how they played in games.

"Kenny's a running back in the SEC. If you watch the games, you can't deny what he's done. You can't deny David's played against some of the highest-rated receivers in the draft, Calvin Johnson, Sidney Rice, Jason Hill from Washington State, Dwayne Bowe. He's come out 50-50 if not better with those guys."