Ed Thompson: Let's talk a little bit about your career at UTEP. I know you're a good route-runner and certainly a dangerous guy after the catch. When looking at your stats, the first thing that has to jump out at people is your 18.4 yards-per-catch your junior year, which you then followed up with 17.9 yards-per-catch your senior year. Talk a little bit about your success at UTEP and what you do to get free and get those extra yards after the catch.
Joe West: Most of my success at UTEP came from digging deep. I didn't get too many opportunities as a wide receiver, so I had to take advantage of a lot of the opportunities I got. Whenever I made a catch I tried to get as much out of it as I can.
Thompson: Talk about the limited opportunities during your college career. I know you had some good players there, guys like Johnnie Lee Higgins who became a rookie wide receiver with the Raiders last year. Was it primarily the talent level?
West: It was a scheme. It was how the coaches built the offense around the same player. And if you weren't that guy, then you would have to get it how you can. I was like the clean-up guy. Whenever they needed a first down they could depend on me. I had to prove to them that I would come through for them whenever the time came. I'm just being consistent while I'm running routes and catching the ball. That's how I got where I am right now.
Thompson: You had a really big game against Southern Mississippi with 153 yards in the next to last game of the season.
West: That was senior night. I just wanted to leave some history on the field and show the city and all the fans and the coaches what I'm all about. I wanted to give them something to talk about whenever I'm not there anymore, because that's my last time playing in that stadium with those guys. I pretty much left everything out on the field like I do every game, but it was more special because one of our receivers, he didn't get to play in the same game. I took what he said to me, "Play for me too," and I went out there for the both of us and put it all out on the line. It was a good game and I just took advantage of all the opportunities I got.
Joe West adds more yards after that catch.
Thompson: I think another great highlight moment for you was against Tulsa, a tough 48-47 battle. Tulsa went on to become the eventual division champ, but you took the game with a 14-yard touchdown catch with less than a minute remaining. Talk a little about that moment in your collegiate career. Does it rank up there among your most memorable?
West: Yes, it does. I didn't get a lot of looks, that game. I was blocking a lot and having fun out there, because we were executing and still in the game. I knew the game's long and I knew that I would get an opportunity — I just had to be ready when an opportunity was given to me. That last play, that last drive, I just knew that I was going to have to step up and make a play whether I was blocking or catching a ball. And it just happened that Trevor threw the ball and I was there to receive it right there in the end zone. That was a wonderful feeling to have that game-winning catch. That will go along with me for the rest of my life.
Thompson: You went on to play in the Texas vs. The Nation game. Your three catches put you in a tie for first among all receivers in the game, and your 54 yards was the second-best out of all the receivers. What do you take away from a game like that? What did you learn and what do you think you did well that game?
West: That whole week was pretty productive. Just being able to go out there and compete with those players was just a wonderful privilege to have. I just had to take full advantage of the opportunity. That was a great experience to go out there and perform in front of scouts.
Thompson: Were there some scouts that came up and chatted with you?
West: A few scouts came and talked to me and asked me about myself, how I get ready for games, what I do in practice, and what kind of extra workouts do I do. They talked to me about my life outside of football as well.
Thompson: Who are some of the teams that are talking to you so far, Joe?
Thompson: How about while you were still playing at school? Did you have any scouts stop by or show any interest before the Texas game?
West: There were a few scouts like Tampa Bay that came and asked me a few questions, but other than that they'll come to the practice and watch us.
Thompson: Joe, you've got the Scouting Combine coming up. What have you been doing to prepare for that?
West: Just been training hard, taking it one day at a time and trying to get as much out of it as I could in these workouts. I take it seriously and approach it like it's a business and prepare myself.
West fights through a tackle attempt.
Thompson: When they're preparing for the Combine, every player is looking to tweak or refine some of their skill areas. What are one or two of things you've been paying the most particular attention to developing during this time period?
West: I've been focusing mostly on my forty-time. My forty is going to be the biggest standout drill that I'm going to have to do — that's the most important to me. All I'm thinking about is running that forty real fast. Running my routes is important too, and I've been working on that. I'm pretty sure I've got that down. I just want to be able to run a fast forty.
Thompson: What have they been able to teach you from a technique standpoint that's going to help you with that forty-time? Technique at the starting line or something while you're in stride?
West: It's mostly that first step. Those first ten yards are the most important part of the race. I've been really focusing on the beginning of the race.
Thompson: Joe, you're going to have the opportunity in Indianapolis to interview with some coaches and general managers. What is it you want them to know about you as a player and as a person when you talk to them one-on-one?
West: That I'm very respectful, I'm very honest, and on the field I give it my all. I make sacrifices for the team to get the win.
Thompson: Have you kept in touch with Johnnie Lee Higgins or anyone else who has made the transition to the NFL to get any advice?
West: Yes, I talked to Johnnie Lee and I talked to (Oakland LB) Thomas Howard and they just tell me to not get caught up in the all the outside stuff. Just stay focused, keep on working, and stay hungry.
Thompson: Have those guys promised to put a good word in for you at Oakland?
West: Yeah, they already know what's up. We talk all the time and make jokes about it. That would be a good deal if I was there with them. That would be good.