Chiefs camp: Charcandrick West raising eyebrows


Heading into Kansas City Chiefs training camp I was thinking about how Jeremy Maclin and Alex Smith would be gelling. I was thinking about what Derrick Johnson would look like after his injury. I was wondering if Marcus Peters would have a strong camp, or how Travis Kelce would look. I have a confession to make; the name Charcandrick West never crossed my mind once this offseason.

Maybe some of you guys were aware and anticipated the return of the small running back out of Abilene Christian University? West went undrafted in 2014 and found his way onto the Chiefs practice squad and was elevated in November to the 53-man roster due to a season-ending injury to Cyrus Gray. His contributions came on special teams as he didn’t get any carries on offense.

West did some nice things in college. In his senior year he finished with 145 carries for 906 yards and 14 touchdowns. He caught 32 balls for 443 yards and two touchdowns as well. West finished his career as the only player in ACU history to have at least 2,000 rushing yards, 1,000 receiving yards, and 750 kickoff return yards in a career. His 3,823 career all-purpose yards are fifth on ACU’s all-time list and his 35 touchdowns rank fourth.

West played high school football in Springhill, La. and initially committed to Louisiana Tech as a cornerback but transferred to ACU during summer training camp and switched to running back. In a recent interview from the Kansas City Star he explained that he grew up wanting to be a great receiver.

"“Man, I wanted to catch everything,” said West, a second-year back who is fighting for a roster spot with the Chiefs. “So me and my step-dad used to get out there every day. … He’d throw 100 balls at me, and every one I dropped, I had to do 10 push-ups.”"

At 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds West provides a lot of speed and flexibility at the running back position with his experience catching the ball. On West’s NFL Pro Day he ran a blazing 4.27 40-yard dash impressing scouts but not enough to be drafted in the first seven rounds.  Going into his second camp with Kansas City he’s been raising eye brows and even had reps with the first string team on Tuesday.

The Chiefs including Andy Reid have been impressed with his ability to run crisp routes and catch the ball. “Charcandrick, he can do everything,” Reid said in the aforementioned article. “He’s working hard on the pass protection part of it right now. Not as far as knowing who to pick up, (but) he’s a smaller guy so he’s just working on his fundamentals and his techniques. His pass game, the actual routes and the run game, he’s doing a phenomenal job.”

Is he Jamaal Charles? No. That doesn’t mean that West isn’t striving to be as good though,

"“For me, being able to be in the meeting room with him, hang out with him and learn from him is a blessing,” West said in his interview with the Star. “I try to do what he does — I try to do it better.”"

West has some fight in him, although not necessarily the Cam Newton-chasing-down-a-cornerback-that-intercepted-him-at-camp kind of fight. It’s more of the kind of fight you have to climb up the ladder of any business organization or depth chart for that matter. That fight showed up a little bit on Sunday’s practice when West got a in a little shoving match with cornerback Jamell Fleming.

Personally, I love it! I love a guy that’s constantly fighting and wanting to prove doubters wrong. There is no sense of entitlement here but more a man that’s fervently chasing his dream of being great football player. The grains of the hour-glass are pouring down as West has about four more weeks to prove that not only is he worth keeping on the practice squad but also worth sharing carries with Jamaal Charles on the 53-man roster. Knile Davis may have something to say about that but that’s not going to stop West from trying.