Darius West ready to contribute after rough start to career


Darius West projects to be a starting safety for UK this season. Photo submitted by UK Athletics.

Chris Leach

In football, injuries are a common occurrence week after week all-season long.

Junior safety Darius West is one of the many football players who have suffered season-ending injuries, but now he’s fully healthy and ready to make an impact in UK’s secondary.

“He’s a great player, I’m glad to have him back,” Mike Edwards said of West. “He just brings a mentality to the whole defense so I’m glad to have him back.”

West has been through his fair share of injuries, as he twice broke his leg in high school. West redshirted his freshman season at UK after a lower leg injury hindered him from learning the changes from high school to college football.

Just last season, West was healthy and expected to be a big contributor in the secondary, until he suffered a season-ending knee injury in fall training camp.

If any good news came from last year’s injury, it’s that he suffered it early in the season. West spent the entire season and winter rehabbing the knee, eventually getting back in the weight room before spring practice.

One of the main goals in spring practice for West was to get through it without re-injuring the knee. West was able to get good workouts in without feeling much pain in his knee.

“The goal was just to get through everyday and see how I felt,” West said. “Everything pretty much felt pretty good.”

The other goal was to get his confidence back up. West has only played in 10 games since arriving at UK in 2014 and getting his confidence up was something head coach Mark Stoops thought needed to happen in order to rely on West in the fall.

“He’s worked really hard to get back on the field,” Stoops said of West. “He’s a guy you all will root for because it’s important to him and he’s just got to get the experience.”

West got a big boost in confidence at the Blue-White Spring game, where he recorded four tackles, two of which were solo. Seeing game-action was another big step in West’s recovery that’s helped him get ready for this upcoming season.

Summer and fall workouts still continue to go well for West, who, when healthy, can make a big impact on the defense, especially in the secondary that’s traditionally the strong-point of UK’s defense.

“Our position is the leaders and it definitely pushes all of us in the room to achieve more and push each other as far as we go,” West said.

On top of having that good mentality that Edwards credits, he also brings a physical presence to the field that could make UK’s secondary one of the top secondaries in the SEC.

If he stays healthy and performs like expected, West is confident that the secondary could live up to it’s hype.

“I feel like I’m fully healthy, fully confident in myself, fully confident in my teammates, fully confident in my coaches,” West said.