West Has Cornerback Skills And Mentality

Gerald West's mother knew he was fast. That point was driven home in an unusual manner in Gerald's early days of football. "I always used to quit," he said. "I didn't like football when I first started playing. Mom would sign me up. She'd drop me off at practice. By the time she got home, I was already there. I didn't start really playing until I was 11 or 12. I've been climbing ever since."



Climb he has. Gerald West is now an outstanding upcoming senior cornerback at Davidson High School in Mobile. On May 17 Foley High School hosted the Riviera Utilities Football Classic in Ivan Jones Stadium. Foley hosted Davidson, Daphne, Fairhope and Tuscaloosa County.

The event attracted fans of those schools, along with coaches from a number of colleges, including Alabama.

Cornerback, the island man position detached from the line of scrimmage's continent of collision, requires an abundance of speed and confidence. Davidson Defensive Coordinator Danny Smith describes one of West's assets. "He has speed to kill and a tremendous burst to the ball. He runs a 4.38-second 40-yard dash. He has outstanding one-on-one cover skills."

His confidence originated from his early admiration of a player famous for blanket coverage. "I really like the way Deion (Sanders) played," West said. " I always used to watch film on him. Before all of our games, I would try to watch a film on Deion just to try to take some of his stuff and try to add to my skills on the field." Wearing number 21 in honor of the former Florida State star, West explains his appreciation for Sanders. "I like his flair. I remember one time he told the media, ‘I don't get paid to hit. I get paid to cover.' I will come up and make a tackle but I really just like to cover people. I just like the way he had a love for the game and he would always just be around the ball."

Game day brings out his competitive nature. "He is very quiet," Coach Smith said. " He is a very shy kid. When he puts that helmet on and those lights come on Friday nights, his whole demeanor changes. He becomes a warrior then. He's a good kid."

Entering his fourth year of varsity competition, West professes a total commitment to the game. "Just giving it all I've got when I'm out there," he said of his game. "Giving 110 percent all the time and looking to make a tackle or an interception."

West supplants his shy, laid back off the field persona with a sense of entitlement on the field as he said, "Being a cornerback, I look at it like the quarterback is throwing me the ball. I just feel like I've got to go get it."

Describing his temperament he admits, "I like to smile and laugh. I really don't like to play too much. I'm just like a down to earth kid. Don't want to brag. I like to be around good people all the time that like to do the same things I like to do, play football and talk about girls sometimes. I'm just down to earth. Those are the types of things I like to do when I'm off the field. Really don't like to go to parties. I really just like to be laid back and chill with somebody."

Every western division Southeastern Conference school--Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State--has tendered a scholarship offer, along with Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee from the east, Clemson from the ACC and Conference USA's Southern Miss. West had plans to camp at Alabama, Auburn and Southern Miss and perhaps some others, even though he is committed to summer school. Although he hasn't set up his five official visits yet, Alabama and Auburn will be two of them according to Coach Smith. Florida State and South Carolina are other schools pursuing him.

Alabama remains a leader for his services according to West who has made numerous visits to Tuscaloosa. "Alabama is in the top right now of all the schools since they treated me like family and I felt really comfortable up there. It's Alabama ahead of everybody right now."

The 5-11, 175-pound defender possessing a 36-inch vertical jump feels compelled to improve his ability to bring down the offensive player. "I don't weigh as much as everyone else out there so I have to hit them underneath. If I catch them slipping and not looking at me, then I'll just hit them up high." Coach Smith points to the youngster's natural growth and development to rectify a deficient part of his game. "He's got to be a better tackler," Smith said. "He's a corner and we don't ask our corners to tackle a lot, but he's got to be able to tackle. He's going to get bigger and stronger and he'll maintain his speed. He's just got to be a better tackler. Sometimes he might play out of control a little bit because he's so aggressive, but that will come."

West bench presses 275 pounds, lifts 245 pounds on the incline, squats 355 pounds and power cleans 285 pounds. His 2.4 GPA needs to rise and he will take the ACT for the first time this summer. Coach Smith feels confident as he stated, "In the last five years, we've had only one not qualified to go on to the next level."

West's junior year defensive contributions include 36 tackles (25 solo), three interceptions, five pass break ups and one fumble recovery. The versatile athlete shines on special teams as a kick returner. Missing three games due to a shoulder injury, West totaled 11 returns for 346 yards including one for a 95-yard touchdown.

Even though West acknowledges a healthy ego on the field, he was candidly refreshing when assessing his scrimmage performance against the Fairhope Pirates. "If I had to rate myself on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd probably give myself a 6. I didn't do very well. I missed a couple of tackles."

Speed and confidence aligned with a slight case of temporary amnesia are winning traits for cornerbacks preparing to compete against the high powered offenses of Division I football. West shows signs of mastering all three.

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