BEREA — Cleveland rookie running back Terrance West has wasted little time proving that he belongs in the big leagues. The talented small-school (Towson) product has opened some eyes out the gate with his performance in Browns training camp.
West, a third-round draft pick, is quickly becoming a fan favorite and is stealing some thunder from Johnny Manziel.
“This city is amazing and the fans are unbelievable,” West said. “They come out and support no matter what, and just want to win. That’s what I’m about – winning -- and want to help change this program. I want to give them a show whenever I’m on the field.”
Put on a show he did. West made a couple nice one-hand grabs during the team’s first day of practice that elicited oohs and aahs from the crowd. He showed his versatility running the ball as well, ripping off long runs that produced the same results from fans. West described his running style as simple.
“I’m a downhill runner,” he said. “It’s put one foot in the ground and get to it. It’s not about running east and west, it’s about getting those yards, moving the ball forward and scoring touchdowns.”
The 5-foot-9, 225-pound West is well-built with a thick lower body and he is violent runner. He shows good quickness, leverage, power and has a little shake to him to make defenders miss. West believes he shares some of the same abilities as San Francisco running back Frank Gore. But Browns running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery thinks otherwise.
“Terrence has some shades of (former NFL RB) Brian Westbrook,” Montgomery said. “He can break you down with his right leg and break you down with his left. He has that Ricky Watters or Walter Payton lure-you-to-sleep-on-the-sidelines move that ‘I can accelerate or I can play like I’m going to accelerate and cut back inside.’ Those are some of the traits that I haven’t seen in a while, since Walter Payton and Ricky Watters.”
West tore through opponents like a hot knife through butter during his final season at Towson University. In 2013, the school’s all-time leading rusher set an FCS (formally Division I-AA) record by amassing more than 2,500 yards and 42 touchdowns while leading his team to the national championship game, a 35-7 loss to North Dakota State.
The rookie is confident in his ability to tote the rock in the pros and is prepared to make the most of his opportunities.
“I came here with a chip on my shoulder, coming from a small school,” West said. “If I came from a big school I would still have the same attitude. That’s the way I live, with a chip on my shoulder. It’s just the way I do things.
“I’m feeling good about the playbook, getting good reps, healthy and ready to go. I want to be a big contributor on offense, but understand I have to take it one day at a time.”
West’s definite swag can be attributed to a tough upbringing as an inner-city kid from the dangerous streets of northwest Baltimore. He comes from a close-knit family whose struggles keep him motivated.
“The adults in my life struggled financially growing up, but always made sure we had what we needed,” West said. “They worked really hard to get those things. Now I can take some of the pressure off them and show the kids in my family that if you put your mind to something your dreams can come true.
“I’m the oldest of four with nieces and nephews that look up to me. I’m out here working hard to show them that good things do happen. It can be for school, being a teacher, lawyer or whatever. You have to work hard for what you want and never stop believing. The only way I can take care of those who made sacrifices for me is show out for the Browns on Sunday. I want to be rookie of the year.”