Brandon West Opens CFL Career on June 17
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The NCAA career record holder for career kick return yards and all-purpose yards is gearing up for another football season, this time north of the border as Brandon West opens his Candian Football League career.
West, who holds the return marks with 3,118 career kick return yards and 7,764 all-purpose yards, also left Western Michigan as the program's third-leading rusher with 3,671, will officially begin his professional career this Friday night when the Saskatchewan Roughriders take on Edmonton at home at 7 p.m. MST.
The Brunswick, Ga., native signed with the Riders of the CFL in March of this year and entered preseason camp on June 1. He is in competition with a pair of backs, namely Wes Cates, who is a six-year veteran, and Hugh Charles, who is in his fourth season.
"I like the competition and I think I have been playing pretty well so far in camp," said West during a phone conversation. "One thing that Western Michigan football taught me was to finish every play and that's what I do.
"We run a play and I don't stop until I am past the last player on the field. The coaches love it, but I know it's just a part of the game. You need to keep going, keep working."
The Canadian game is a little different from what is played in the United States, namely because of the size of the field, something West is just fine with when he has the ball in his hands.
"I like it. It gives me more room to run after the hand off or on returns. I actually find it makes the game a little bit easier because the field opens up," commented West.
West's move to the province of Saskatchewan, the team is located in Regina, Saskatchewan, marked just the second time he had been to Canada. The first was as a true freshman with the Broncos at the 2007 International Bowl.
"This is a great city, and these fans love football. The games are sold out all of the time. Our preseason opener is sold out already," commented West. "When I got here I didn't know anyone so that was a little nerve racking but I had a chance to get to know the guys on the team and I really enjoy it."
Brandon's free time is about to come to an end abruptly as the Riders open the preseason at 7 p.m. MST against the Edmonton Eskimos. The West Division rivals will play at Mosaic Stadium, the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
A season ago, the Riders finished the season with a 10-8 record and a 5-5 mark in the division, advancing to their third-straigh Grey Cup game and 10th overall. The Riders fell to Montreal, 21-18, but have hoisted the cup on three occasions with the last time being 2007.
West does not know how many touches he will get in the backfield but knows his versatility as a runner and receiver will pay dividends. Brandon, who will wear #9 this season, will also return punts and kicks for the Riders. Linebacker Barrin Simpson (Mississippi State) wears jersey #2, the number in which Western Michigan fans are most familiar seeing Brandon wear.
Recently, www.GreenZoneFootball.com conducted a video feature on Saskatchewan's top three running backs.
In case Bronco fans wanted to know how Brandon looks in his green and white Riders practice uniform, here are a few pics.
Brandon West and the Roughriders open the regular season against Edmonton at home on July 3 at 5 p.m. MST. For updates on Brandon throughout the season at www.riderville.com.