“I’m ready for the challenge,” West said. “I’ll adapt to anything that’s thrown at me. I’m just prepared. I had a good thing with Towson. They prepared me very well, and it should be fun.”
West, a Baltimore native and Northwestern graduate, said he made up his mind after meeting with Tigers coach Rob Ambrose on Sunday -- one day after Towson lost, 35-7, to three-time reigning national champion North Dakota State at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
“It was hard,” West said of the thought process to make the leap to the NFL. “Me and Coach talked about it and thought it was the best thing for me.”
Ambrose said paperwork he had submitted to the NFL to evaluate West’s draft potential showed that about 10 teams projected West being selected as high as the third round and one of those franchises had him taken in the second round.
Ambrose said the timing for West, who will turn 23 on Jan. 28, makes sense now.
“It was a decision that was made between he and his family,” Ambrose said Tuesday morning. “They consulted with me, and I gave them information, but it was their decision, and I’m happy for him. I wish him well. Our goal is to help these guys grow and mature to take on the world, and this is a great opportunity for him. We’re proud of him, and I wish him the best.”
Ambrose conceded that there was a part of him that wished that West would return for one more season to an offense that loses eight starters, including the entire offensive line and quarterback Peter Athens.
“He’s a great football player, and you don’t ever want to lose a great football player for any reason whatsoever,” Ambrose said, adding that West has promised to eventually graduate with a degree in sports management. “But why we do what we do is bigger than wins and losses, and to help create opportunities for young men on and off the field for their futures is really what we do, and football is just football.
"Of course, I’d like to be a little selfish, and having him in the backfield makes me feel a little bit better. But we’ll do what we always do. We always find a way. He’s going to move on, and we’re going to find a way to keep on winning and keep on building. We’re grateful for what he has done. He’s done a great job for us, and he’s done a great job for the city of Baltimore.”
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 223 pounds, West used his power, footwork and vision to set a pair of FCS records with 2,509 rushing yards and 42 total touchdowns this season.
With 86 career touchdowns, he surpassed the previous school record of 47 set by running back Jason Corle between 1996-99, but he finished three touchdowns shy of the FCS mark established by former Villanova and Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook.
Still, West said he is eager to test his skills at the NFL level.
“I feel like I did everything,” he said. “There’s nothing left for me to prove.”
CBS Sports was the first outlet to report West’s decision.