Baltimore native West hopes to make Ravens ‘last stop’
— Terrance West hopes Baltimore is the final stop on his NFL journey.
The hometown kid is on his third team in as many professional seasons, but this time, he’s where he feels he belongs.
“Growing up in Baltimore, I always was a Ravens fan. Coming out of the draft, the Ravens were going to draft me, but the Cleveland Browns traded up and picked me,” West said. “It is hard to get in the NFL. When my name was called, I was just happy to be in the NFL.”
West’s journey came full circle when he signed with the Ravens back in November, but it has not been without obstacles.
The Baltimore native starred at Towson University. He found himself in hot water there at times, too, during an up-and-down career.
West ran for 1,294 yards and 29 touchdowns during his freshman season with the Tigers. Those numbers dropped during his sophomore year. He was benched for a game against Old Dominion and publicly threatened to quit the team via Twitter afterward.
West bounced back for one of the best individual seasons in FCS history as a junior. He rushed for 2,509 yards and scored 41 touchdowns while leading Towson to the national championship game. He was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award.
The Browns selected West in the third round of the 2014 draft. He showed promise as Cleveland’s leading rusher with 673 yards as a rookie.
But questions arose about West’s work ethic and the Browns believed he reported to training camp overweight. He was traded to the
Tennessee Titans for a conditional seventh-round draft pick after the final preseason game.
West only appeared in two games for the Titans. He ran for a total of 51 yards and fumbled twice before being waived in November.
Baltimore signed West to its practice squad three days later. Seasonending injuries to starter Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro forced him onto the active roster. He debuted for his hometown team on Nov. 30 on Monday Night Football against the franchise that had traded him for a seventh-round pick days before the season began.
West gained 180 yards and averaged nearly four yards per carry in six games with the Ravens in 2015. He also caught four passes for 21 yards. He entered this year’s training camp third on Baltimore’s running back depth chart – behind Forsett and second-year back Buck Allen. But so far, West has turned the most heads.
He’s a stocky, powerful runner who can burst through holes between the tackles. His size has proven deceptive, though, as he’s shown quickness and fluidity in his cuts.
“He has had a great offseason, OTAs and training camp,” running backs coach Thomas Hammock said. “He has done a great job of studying the playbook and he is in great shape. He is really competing hard.”
West said that he “was OK with the playbook” last season. He claims to know it perfectly now and called pass protection the area where he’s improved the most.
There have been no questions about the type of shape West reported to training camp in. On Monday, West said that he weighed 220-225 pounds during his days at Towson. He weighs 215 pounds now. He feels more powerful and more explosive, he said.
“He’s done a really good job,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s in great shape; he flashes talent, he’s very determined, is all business. I really appreciate it.”
There’s also been no signs of the problems with coaching that he previously had a reputation for.
“There’s no pushing or prodding, other than just the coaching,” Harbaugh said. “Terrance has reacted to the coaching very well. He listens and he tries to do what he’s asked to do. We haven’t seen any issues with that at all.”
West, 25, credits the recent birth of his twin daughters for the positive changes in his life. He only has two focuses these days.
“I just had two daughters. I have a son, too, so I have three kids. I just limit all my distractions and focus on football first, then my family. While I’m in camp, I just focus on football,” he said. “[My kids are] great motivation. That puts another chip on my shoulder. I don’t want my kids to depend on anybody; I want them to depend on me, so I’m just trying to put the work in now.”
West should see plenty of action in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers. He’s in a battle for carries as Baltimore’s third-string back, but that’s just the next challenge he plans to overcome.
“Throughout my career – high school, college – I’ve always had obstacles I have had to overcome,” he said. “I was in Cleveland, I went to Tennessee, now I’m with the Baltimore Ravens. I want to make this my last stop.”
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Running back Terrance West, right, is battling for playing time in a Baltimore Ravens backfield that features Justin Forsett, left, and Buck Allen, center.