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By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s big enough to play cornerback and match up with speedy receivers, but he also could put on weight and play safety. That versatility is why so many colleges, including Kentucky and Louisville, are recruiting Lima, Ohio, standout Darius West.
“He has 10 or 11 offers, but I think the thing that has happened with Darius is that he has garnered a lot of Big Ten interest and now is trying to get some SEC interest,” said coach Jerry Cooper.
Cooper says West has offers from Big Ten schools Illinois, Purdue and Penny State along with interest from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. He has an offer from Louisville as well as ones from Cincinnati, West Virginia, Central Florida, Bowling Green, Toledo and Missouri. Oregon, Tennessee, Baylor, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Arkansas have all shown interest in West.
“He stopped by Kentucky because he is real interested in trying to find SEC teams willing to offer,” Cooper said. “He is trying to get SEC interest so his stock will rise a little bit in the eyes of big-time Big Ten programs.”
Cooper said he’s just a fraction under 6-1 and weighs 190 pounds.
“His strength is really good. He is bench pressing about 275 (pounds) now. Couple that size with strength and phenomenal speed — he ran a 4.4 (40-yard dash) at a combine a year ago and you have somebody with size and speed to be a potential corner. Those guys have to be fast enough to cover and also big enough to face those big wideouts. If he can’t play corner, put weight on him and move him inside,” Cooper said. “Schools see him as a dual position guy and that has really helped his stock rise. Most Big Ten schools started on him as a corner, but now that seems to have transferred more to a safety.”
West, a four-star recruit, wants for his parents to be able to see him play in college, which could be a plus for Kentucky.
“He drew a circle around Lima and went out about five or six hours to places where his dad would be able to drive after working on Friday or getting up on Saturday and see him play,” Cooper said.
Kentucky also has the benefit of coach Mark Stoops’ name being so prominent in Ohio.
“Those Stoops brothers are all well known here. Their dad was a long-time coach at Youngstown. Those guys all have Ohio roots,” Cooper said. “There is an abundance of talent in Ohio. Stoops is going to come in here and see if he can get a kid or two, especially with Kentucky being so close. It’s not that far to Lexington to be able to play in the SEC and get to go against LSU, Florida, Alabama. I think that is an intriguing possibility to Darius.
“Schools are now realizing how thick and strong and explosive he is, and his stock is going up. I just hope he continues to play well and impresses people, but I know he liked what he saw at Kentucky.”