April 17, 2012
It would be easy for Terrance West to brag.
This is the guy who, in one season, shattered a Towson University football record: 29 touchdowns in 11 games. This is the guy who ran 1,294 yards in 11 games, who last year won the inaugural Jerry Rice Award for the most outstanding freshman player in the Football Championship Subdivision and helped lead the Tigers to a 9-3 record and CAA championship last season. (In 2010, the Tigers had a 1-10 record.)
But this is also the guy who used to wake up every morning at 5:30 a.m. to take the bus from his West Baltimore home to practice. This is the guy who stresses his plan to open recreation centers for children in his old neighborhood before he even mentions the NFL.
"The stats, that's just nothing, man," said West, who's gearing up for Saturday's Tiger Bowl II. "It's all about the team; I don't care about the awards. My goal is the team's goal: a national title."
A sophomore sports management major, West is the first person in his family to go college and knows his life could have gone in a completely opposite direction. He and three siblings were raised off North Avenue by a single mother.
Football entered his life when, at 8 years old and suspended from school -- "I had a major attitude problem," West admits -- his uncle took him to a local rec center, to "take that anger out on the field." "No doubt, football changed me," he said. "I saw that God gave me the talent and I couldn't let it go to waste. I always knew what I could do, but I had to prove to the world that I could do it."
After standout seasons at Northwestern High School, where he was an all-Baltimore selection as running back his junior and senior year, West attended Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia for a year before deciding he wanted to be closer to his family.
West now wants to make sure his own son, Brendan, 3, has a future and a father to look up to. West glances at the crowd at home games, sees his son and knows that his life has purpose beyond setting touchdown records.
"My priority is making sure he avoids the same mistakes I made," he said.