Forrest West didn't want to leave Colorado, but he felt like in 2011 it was a move he needed to make for his football career.
He was coming off a year where he saw action in 11 contests for 258 snaps, despite missing part of fall camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. West tallied 19 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and 5.5 sacks, during his sophomore campaign and his sack total was the second-highest on the team, despite playing a limited amount of snaps. So, why leave?
"A lot of it was playing time," said West. "We played a unique scheme where it was essentially a three-four front and the other defensive end was a linebacker. So we had four good defensive ends basically splitting reps at that one pass-rushing spot.
"Then we had a new staff come in too. I went through the spring, and I wasn't gelling with the new coaching staff. I felt like it was time to look at some other options."
NC State defensive coordinator Mike Archer knows that you can't have enough guys who can pressure the quarterback, so when West reached out to the Wolfpack staff about transferring in from Colorado, Archer was quick to take a look.
"I got some film from Colorado when Forrest contacted us last year around this time," said Archer. "I watched him against Oklahoma and Nebraska, good football teams, and as a young kid I could tell he was a natural pass rusher.
"I called the Colorado coaches and they said he was a good player, but they wanted 290-pound defensive ends for their scheme, and he is not that big."
Once West was granted his release by the Colorado coaches he began to contact other programs. He indicated that teams such as UCONN, UNLV, Arizona State, and South Florida were involved, along with NC State.
West totaled 5.5 sacks
in 2010 at Colorado.
"I was looking at a bunch of schools at the I-A level that were solid teams," said West. "I wanted a chance to go far in the bowl season, maybe get to a big bowl. That was something I hadn't done at Colorado.
"One of those schools that was close to home and fit that was NC State."
A native of Canton, Conn., West prepped at the Salisbury School, where he earned first-team All-Erickson League and was named first-team All-New England for Class A by the New England Prep School Athletic Council. He knew that he wanted to get back closer to his family. NC State emerged as a viable option early in the process.
"It's on the east coast and actually I have family in North Carolina... my mom is from there," he said. "So I contacted coach Archer and coach Willis. I left them a message, but they didn't contact me first. They called my high school coach and said they were interested and things took off from there."
West enrolled in the summer and made an impact on the scout team last fall, where he went to work against the Wolfpack's starting offense. Due to NCAA rules he had to sit out the 2011 season, so Archer didn't get to see exactly what type of player the Wolfpack had added.
"In August we really couldn't coach him much because he was on the scout team," said Archer. "But, the offensive scout coaches kept saying he was really good. They talked about how he had a great motor... was a smart kid.
"As we started to prepare for the bowl game, we started coaching him and you could see the natural pass rushing ability... the pressure to rush off the edge."
During spring practice Archer was able to finally watch West in action on a daily basis.
"Well, I liked what I saw, that's for sure," said Archer, laughing. "He's got intangibles and instinctive things pass-rushing wise... that can beat you off the edge with speed and technique, and really the only other guy we've got like that is Art Norman to me."
West capped his spring with a standout performance in the Kay Yow Spring Game where he totaled six tackles and a sack. It was the first time Pack fans got to see West in action, but Archer saw that type of effort throughout the spring.
"Forrest was the defensive lineman who caught my eye the most in the spring, but I expected that," said Archer. "With his intelligence and ability to pick up the defense and understand what to do, I wasn't surprised. We drop our ends and he's comfortable doing that, and with his ability to get after the passer. He was a guy that really stood out.
We're excited to see what he can do when we crank him up."