BEREA: Overlooked and underappreciated most of his life, Terrance West did his best to play at a Football Bowl Subdivision school. He even worked part-time at a shoe store while attending a military academy to gain attention from larger schools.
But after failed attempts to walk on at both Maryland and Clemson, West finally settled in at little-known Towson and made a big name for himself.
The Browns traded up Friday night to select West in the third round (94th overall), giving the San Francisco 49ers their picks in the fourth round and sixth round to move up 12 spots.
West set NCAA records with 2,509 yards and 41 rushing touchdowns last season. His 86 career scores are second all time to former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, who scored 89 times at Villanova.
“I just have a nose for the end zone,” he said. “I love scoring points.”
That’s a new concept for a meager Browns attack that scored just four rushing touchdowns last season – worst in the NFL. The Browns overhauled their backfield by signing Ben Tate as a free agent and now drafting West, a punishing runner despite his 5-foot-9, 225-pound frame. Browns general manager Ray Farmer likened West to Maurice Jones-Drew, at least in body style.
“I think it will be a good mix,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said of a Tate/West backfield. “I think it’s very difficult in this league, especially in this division and especially in our mindset, to put all of that on one player.”
West has rushed for more than 9,500 yards in high school and college combined, but he couldn’t get a scholarship offer despite rushing for more than 4,700 yards during his prep career in Baltimore. He attended Fork Union Military Academy, where he played alongside former Ohio State star Carlos Hyde, but still couldn’t attract much attention.
His style at Towson attracted the attention of the Browns and plenty other scouts, however.
“When I’m running the ball, I only see the goal line. I don’t see anybody else on the field,” West said. “I just see me and that goal line, and let’s just get some points up on that board.”
West was the sixth running back taken in the draft. The first running back wasn’t chosen until the Tennessee Titans drafted Washington’s Bishop Sankey late in the second round. A Wadsworth native, Sankey was the 54th player selected, making this the longest wait in draft history before a running back was chosen.
“After they did start to go, there’s always a thing that we call ‘runs,’” Farmer said. “It could speak to the fact that people thought this draft was deeper in other areas and people wanted to make sure they capitalized on those other players sooner.”
By bundling a pair of picks to move up for West, the Browns are left with only two picks (one in the fourth round, one in the seventh) for Saturday’s final day. But Farmer didn’t seem concerned with sacrificing extra picks to get players he wanted.
Farmer felt West would be drafted somewhere during the compensatory portion of the third round. Ultimately, his selection sparked running backs to be taken three times within four picks. Included in that grouping was Kent State’s Dri Archer, who went three picks later to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I don’t think there was any hesitation (to move up),” Farmer said. “The object of the draft is to get good football players. In a general context, the closer you are to the front, supposedly, the better chance you have at the talent that is available.”
The Browns began the draft with 10 picks. Barring any more trades, they’ll leave this draft with seven players.
West grew up in Baltimore and was a lifelong Ravens fan – until Saturday night.
“My favorite team was the Ravens, but whoever drafted me was going to become my favorite team in my heart,” he said. “Now it’s the Cleveland Browns.”