DeAndre West: Silent but deadly

DeAndre West isn't a name that you probably heard before yesterday when he announced his commitment to play for Nebraska. Wilson Prep is a small school in Oakland, only in its fourth year of existence. That doesn't always mean that much, but it's been enough to keep West out of the spotlight until now. Now, though, West could become a hot commodity indeed. Will it matter? Not according to West himself.

At 6 foot, 1 inch and 195 pounds, I'm telling you that it's about as close to the perfect size for an athlete, ready for his segue into college. DeAndre West has a year or so to wait for that, but he's done plenty at the prep level, which makes you feel he'll transition just fine.

He totaled 1,500 yards as a running back, caught four touchdowns as a receiver and totaled over 100 tackles as a linebacker. Oh, and as the starting punter, he ran two fakes in for scores.

That's pretty loud statistics, especially as a junior, but if there is anyone that isn't loud about what he does, it's West. Ask him to analyze just what he does and how he does it so well, DeAndre keeps it pretty simple: "I don't know how I do it. I just do," he said. "I guess I'm pretty good."

DeAndre would strike you as the soft-spoken type, not into glorifying what he does, leaving that for what he does on the field. And as quiet as he is off-the-field, even he'd admit that he's anything but on.

When matched up with a receiver, which is what he'll be experiencing a lot at Nebraska, as he is slated to be a DB – West will tell you who's doing most of the talking between the two. "Oh, that's me," he said. "They talk, but I talk more."

That's a darn odd combination if you ask anyone that knows football, a kid that plays linebacker in high school, but will play defensive back in college. The common problem there is, the kid just doesn't have the hips. As West's coach (Desmond Gumbs) indicated yesterday when he confirmed West's commit, that's not a problem for DeAndre.

"He's definitely got the hips, Gumbs said. "He's flexible and he's got the speed. But he's the kind of kid that will come up and hit you too. Really, there's not much this kid can't do."

Being as prolific on both sides of the ball as he has been, it begs the question of which position he likes. We know he's expected to play DB, but often there is a tendency for these players to lean a little toward what they like doing best.

Well, let's see here: You've got a kid with 4.4-speed, standing over six foot and weighing almost two hundred pounds, and he had over 100 tackles as a linebacker.

What do you think he likes to do?

"I like safety," West said. "I follow guys like Brian Dawkins and Ed Reed. I just like to hit."

That's an open door for West when you look at Nebraska's current situation.

While there are a host of players coming in, expected to at least try out at safety, there is no set depth chart at that position right now. Senior free safety Andrew Shanle and junior strong safety Tierre Green, make up the group, who had to replace Daniel Bullocks, who went in the second round of the NFL Draft, along with recently graduated Blake Tiedtke.

That's a position, which is as open as any can be when you project to when West will arrive in the fall of 2007.

Of course, you could say the same for Defensive Back.

With Zac Bowman going into his senior year and Cortney Grixby to be a senior next year, there's nobody figured in as THE guys to replace either one. Nebraska has junior college transfer Andre Jones coming in, who should offer at the very least a solid starter in nickel packages, but unless he takes a redshirt this year, next year will be his last year as well.

So, if you want opportunity, there it is and Gumbs is one that thinks DeAndre is the kind of young man, who will more than take advantage. "He works really hard," Gumbs said of West. "He does everything you want on the practice field, but he's in the weight room doing what he has to do there too."

"I know he's going to have a great opportunity at Nebraska, but I know I expect him to do well. He's not the kind of kid that is just happy to be there. He wants to play."

The opportunity to play early is good reason by itself, if a kid is trying to see his best shot to get on the field quickly. But what sealed the deal for Nebraska was something you have come used to hearing about this staff over the past three years.

It wasn't brain surgery and it wasn't rocket science, and it didn't come down to who has the best of this or that. It was just about the people he got to know.

"I really liked the coaches," West said of offensive line coach Dennis Wagner and head coach Bill Callahan, the two who talked to him the most. "They were real open with me and I just got along with them. Plus, Nebraska has a good football team."

The question has to come, though, doesn't it? With this being such an early commit, a commit to a school in the Midwest and to a school he's never even seen in person – the question has to come. It's not like this young man won't get recruited anymore. You know how recruiting is. If he continues to improve as much as he has, the recruiting could be a lot more intense than it's been.

Just how in the heck is this kid going to be able to say no to all of them, especially the west coast schools, UCLA being one of those his coach said West has liked for some time.

Can he resist the pressure?

West had a simple reply: "I'm going to Nebraska."

Coach Gumbs did expand on that a bit: "It's early, but we sat down as a group about it myself, DeAndre and his family, and we talked about it and everything that went into this decision."

"He was really comfortable with the coaches and with the team, so there really didn't seem to be a reason to not just get it over with."

"Now that he made that decision, though, he'll stick to it."

DeAndre isn't a household name right now. When he committed, there wasn't this Jimmy Clausen-like entourage accompanying him out of a Hummer Limousine, just so he could announce where he was going to school.

Like his disposition off-the-field, it was quiet, to the point and now many Nebraska fans know his name. But West still isn't talking that much. As his coach would tell you, West leaves all the talking for the field.

"He's a quiet kid. He's young and doesn't really say a whole lot when it comes to what he does on the field," he said. "But wait until he gets there. I think Nebraska fans are really going to like what they see. He doesn't have to talk, because that kid can flat out play."


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