Surrounded by a large crowd of NFL scouts and coaches Monday afternoon at rain-soaked Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson star running back Terrance West cut sharply to his left and adeptly corralled an intermediate pass without breaking stride.
West displayed sound hands, quick feet and impressive balance in front of 22 NFL teams during his Pro Day workout. He didn't drop a pass and maintained his footing despite a steady downpour.
"If I had to run on fire, I'd do it, man," said West, a Northwestern graduate who measured in at 5 feet 9, 230 pounds. "Whatever the weather is, I'm going to have to adjust to it. It's football. The running back coaches said I'm real smooth running the ball in the positional drills.
"Everything was great. I caught all the passes that was thrown to me. It wasn't perfect, but I caught them. I always knew I had great hands. I just had to show the scouts what I can do and that I'm versatile and can catch the football out of the backfield."
Oakland Raiders veteran scout Raleigh McKenzie praised West, who rushed for 2,509 yards and scored 42 touchdowns last season to lead Towson to the Football Championship Subdivision national championship game. After setting school records with 4,854 rushing yards and 86 touchdowns, West is regarded as a rising draft prospect who's graded as a third- to fourth-round draft pick by analysts.
"Terrance is definitely a talent," said McKenzie, a retired former Washington Redskins offensive lineman. "Some guys are better in shorts, some guys are better in pads. He's a pads guy. That's how he makes his money. He's a tackle-breaker. He's a natural runner. Some guys struggle to make moves, but I think he's got good vision and is a natural.
"Coming from a smaller school like him, guys are always looking for something to prove. That's a good thing. You don't want a guy to come in and think they've got it made in the shade. I'm pulling for him."
West stood on his NFL scouting combine numbers from February, which included a 4.54 time in the 40-yard dash, 16 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press and a 33.5-inch vertical leap.
West concentrated on positional drills on Monday, which were run by Jacksonville Jaguars running backs coach Terry Richardson.
New England Patriots assistant to the coaching staff Mike Lombardi, the former Cleveland Browns general manager, was inattendance, as was Houston Texans director of pro personnel Brian Gaine. Four representatives from the Buffalo Bills, three from the New Orleans Saints and two members of the Ravens' personnel department were also present.
West met privately with Cincinnati Bengals running backs coach Kyle Caskey prior to the workout Monday morning for a few hours. Following the workout, West held meetings with the Indianapolis Colts, Jaguars, Bills and Raiders.
"I appreciate it," West said. "To get all the scouts and coaches to come out, it's a blessing."
West held a formal meeting at the combine with the Ravens, who have a high opinion of West and are expected to draft a running back at some point.
"I can only control what I can control, and that's work hard," said West when asked if he hopes to be drafted by his hometown team. "I don't care what team it is, football is football. Whatever team that gets me is going to get a guy that wants to come in and compete and play immediately."
"I've been staying out of trouble, that's the main key off the field," West said. "I stay humble and just grind. If the teams fly me out, they're interested."
For the past two years, West has been advised by Ravens backup running back Bernard Pierce.
"He's been like my mentor; me and Bernard Pierce are real close," West said. "That's my big bro."
Pierce and Ravens wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard, a former Towson player, were both on the sideline Monday watching West audition for the NFL.
"I'm thinking first three rounds for Terrance, he's definitely a talent," Pierce said. "I would say he's a little bit overlooked because of the school. He's going to be a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. He definitely has got the build, the speed and the attitude. I'm trying to keep him right. He's got a good head on his shoulders."
NOTE: Towson cornerback Jordan Love, a Georgia transfer who was named first-team All-Colonial Athletic Conference last season, ran the 40-yard dash between 4.46 and 4.48 seconds. He also had a 6.89 second three-cone drill, a 4.0 second short shuttle and a 36-inch vertical leap.