In the FCS Huddle: Towson's West earned the Rice Award
By Sean Shapiro, FCS Assistant
Towson, MD (Sports Network) - Terrance West may have led the FCS with 27 regular-season touchdowns and claimed the inaugural Jerry Rice Award, but the best freshman in the country wasn't even on scholarship until halfway through the 2011 season.
"We got him in the door and all he wanted was an opportunity," Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. "He wasn't on scholarship, he was here all spring and most of this semester not on scholarship. I told him, 'I'm going to give you the same deal I give everybody else, you'll get what you earn.'"
West was finally awarded that scholarship for his stellar play halfway through the season, the next step in a long journey for the Baltimore native who went through a difficult and somewhat unique recruiting process.
After graduating from Northwestern High School, West attended Ford Union Military Academy for a year and saw several offers slip by the wayside.
"I didn't have the right looks," West said. "I was about to go to Clemson, but they had a guy get eligible. If he wasn't, they were going to bring me in. Then I started calling around. My prep school, they couldn't take me back, and then I was about to go to Maryland, but their coach was fired. So, I was just in a messed-up situation. I was this close to going to Morgan (State), but I ended up here."
Sending out emails and game tape to various schools, West was finally rewarded when Ambrose gave him a chance at Towson. The freshman rewarded his coach for his confidence, by using all his past struggles as motivation.
"It was tough, man," West said. "I came in hungry and I knew I had a lot on my back. Being in a messed-up situation coming out of prep school, having to basically sit out a year, I just used it all on the field."
After sitting out the season opener against Morgan State, West had his redshirt lifted in the second week of the season against Villanova and rushed for two touchdowns. The next week against Colgate, he rushed for three more touchdowns. From there, the snowball effect began.
West rushed for at least two touchdowns in nine regular-season games, including four-touchdown performances against Richmond, Delaware and New Hampshire.
Even more importantly than the scoring runs, Towson was winning, claiming the CAA Football title with a 9-2 regular-season record and earning a home game against Lehigh in the second round of the playoffs. West finished the campaign with 1,294 yards and 29 touchdowns on the ground.
"It feels very good, those touchdowns, mainly because they got us the wins," West said. "And all I worry about is the Ws, even if it does feel good to score."
The wins and touchdowns also have made Ambrose happy, who is excited about the future with West carrying the ball for Towson.
"He's talented with a huge upside, and he's grown through the year," Ambrose said. "He wants to represent the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore through Towson football, and he's got a great chance to do that."
The Rice Award is presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com.
01/10 17:55:44 ET