Proud of His Player

George West

George West has already completed his last classes at Northeast high school (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and will soon be turning a page in his life as he heads to Notre Dame as one of the first football players in the history of the university to take advantage of early enrollment. His former head coach Ron Kroeger talks about the player and person Irish fans can expect from his standout student athlete.

When Northeast head coach Ron Kroeger brought a tape of George West to the Oklahoma State coaches they didn't show much interest in recruiting him. Bob Stoops thought he was too small even though West is as big and faster than one of Oklahoma's former wide receivers who now plays on Sundays, Mark Clayton.

"Later on they came back and wanted to talk to him," coach Kroeger recalled of the two in-state football powers recruiting interest in West. "But it was too late, and I told them he was already committed to Notre Dame.

"When coach Haywood first came down and I put in a video of George and he looked at that for probably two or three minutes and he said ‘I want to talk to that kid. I'm going to sign that kid.' You could see the excitement, and you could hear the excitement in coach Heywood's voice. He saw a kid on the football field that was a difference maker.

"He went to a seven-on-seven camp this summer down in Texas, and he was the man," coach Kroeger described of West's performance at the Dallas competition. "He scored four touchdowns in the first game.

"George was hurt during the year. He pulled a hamstring and then separated his shoulder so he was hurt and his stats weren't like they were the year before."

Despite his injuries West was a player that coach Kroeger relied on to carry his team as West played just about every down. Whether he had the ball in his hands or not, West did his job without complaint.

"He's very, very competitive," coach Kroeger said of West's nature. "To him it's all about success. Watch him block down field. A lot of your prima Donna players won't block, or they'll block initially and then stop and watch. But George, he keeps going. He's just hauling all the time.

"The thing about George is that he's a tremendous kid. He's a very caring kid. He puts others in front of him. He's a very, very good kid. He's very well raised and his mom and dad did a tremendous job with him. He's just a good kid and if you're a dad, you're very proud."

"He's that kind of kid," Kroeger continued. "He works hard. The grades have been good. He scored high on his ACT. He's an all-around great kid; he's very humble even though he has all these skills. That's the thing that I really like about George.

Many Irish fans have an image of a player with a very slight build, but coach Kroeger believes people will be surprised when West gets to Notre Dame.

"As they say in Oklahoma City, ‘he's rocked up'," coach Kroeger said of West build. "He was a regional champion power-lifter for our power lifting team that won the state championship last year. He squatted 455 pounds, dead-lifted 540 pounds and benched 285 pounds at a 181-pound body. That's very, very impressive. So to go along with all that speed, there's a lot of power.

"What many people don't know about George is that the Colorado Rockies had talked to him about baseball, so he's a phenomenal baseball player. He can play any position; he's so fast and quick. He was one of the stolen base leaders and home run leaders last year."

It was nearly a year since coach Haywood sat in coach Kroeger's office to witness George West's tape for the first time, but Haywood will likely be back. Northeast has junior safety Ishmael Underdown and sophomore Jermaine Jackson that coach Kroeger believes will be big-time players.

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