"He's been very special for us," West said. "He started since he was a sophomore, the year we went to the state finals, and he was, if not our leading tackler, then our No. 2 tackler. He's just a very, very consistent player.
"The thing that strikes me about him is that he understands the game very well," West said. "He's very coachable. You can tell him something one time, and he gets it. He's not a nervous kid — nothing's too big for him. He can take coaching; he can take a chewing and respond positively to it."
West called Cole "extremely cerebral", and said he was a player who played beyond his athletic ability because of the way that he saw things on the field. He said he received recommendations from his junior high coaches, much the same way Texas coach Mack Brown received them from high school coaches.
"All of them said, 'Wait until you see Tim Cole. He can do this. He can do that.' I was obviously excited to see it, but he had to prove it to us," West said. "They were exactly right. He was everything they said he was going to be."
West remembered one of the first games Cole played in, a Saturday morning contest against Houston Lamar that was rescheduled because of a thunderstorm. The atmosphere was like a scrimmage, and West said that Cole messed up his assignment on consecutive draw plays. The Brenham coach pulled him from the game and "got after him pretty good."
"I said I didn't know if he could play for us," West said. "He just stood there, stone-faced, and a tear came out.
"He didn't say anything," West said. "We put him back in the game, and they ran that play again, and he hit it for a two-yard loss. When he got up, he turned to the sideline and looked at me. From that point on, he went after the best and he performed well."
That included stellar performances against two future teammates in Quandre Diggs, then a lightning-quick cornerback for Angleton, and Johnathan Gray of Aledo. Along the way, he showed an aptitude on and off the field that impressed West.
"There are certain guys who are smart, that you can talk to them and they're smart, but you get them to the field and they don't have a feel for it. Other guys aren't very good in the classroom, or in talking to them. He's both," West said. "He's extremely smart. The game is slow for him because he can talk and think while he's doing it. He understands and has a flow for it.
"Some kids stand still, and when they see something, they react to it. Tim reacts as he goes," West said. "The other thing that we learned when he was a sophomore is that while Tim isn't a sprinter, he isn't slow. But what he can do is that he can tackle at full speed. A lot of kids have to gather themselves to make a good tackle, but he can go full speed and make a really nice tackle. He has great body control."
Cole ran a 5-flat 40-yard dash at The Opening, which West said wasn't as fast as he could clock. But West was quick to point out that his acceleration — which Cole demonstrated by running a 4.2-second shuttle at the same event — was outstanding.
"He looks really, really good for 25-30 yards," West said. "It's the last 10 yards that he isn't as fast at. But his first 30 yards are as fast as a much faster player. His 30 time is probably really good."
That Cole has that kind of dynamic acceleration is a tribute to his work ethic, West said.
"We told Tim when he was younger that he had to improve his foot speed, and get better feet if he was going to be a major college player," West said. "He went to work to make that happen. He's the kind of kid to do it on his own. He's going to make sure he's ready to go."
It's that work ethic, and Cole's character that leads West to believe that he's going to succeed at Texas.
"He's got tremendous character," West said. "He's just a wonderful person, and to me, that means a lot. He's really a good person.
"When he goes to UT, he's a player that will probably be redshirted, and won't be somebody everybody's talking about next year," West said. "But toward the middle to the end part of his career, he's somebody that could become the spokesman or face of the Texas Longhorns. He's a big-time leader, and a big-time linebacker."