AMES — The most soft-spoken player on Iowa State’s roster is due for a monster game on Saturday night vs. Baylor. All signs currently point to this at least.
Jarvis West, a twitchy 5-foot-7 wide receiver, housed a first quarter kickoff return for a touchdown in Iowa State’s recent 42-35 loss to Texas Tech. Two games prior to that, West caught six passes and a touchdown in Iowa State’s only win of the season vs. Tulsa.
Individually, Jarivs West is trending up right now.
Over the course of his two and a half year career in Ames, West has 69 receptions but only four have gone for touchdowns. Three of those came in last season’s 35-21 win over you know who…the Baylor Bears.
“Jarvis is playing with a lot of confidence right now and I truly believe that he is playing with more speed right now,” Iowa State’s offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham said. “Obviously it is easy to say that on the kickoff return but on offense, I feel like he is playing with more speed down the field and in short space. He has always been quick but you also need to stress people downfield and right now, he is playing with a lot of confidence.”
The combination of West’s 26.1 career kickoff return average (second in school history behind Luther Blue) and last year’s seven catch, 99-yard, three touchdown performance vs. the Bears makes No. 1 a prime breakout candidate for Saturday night’s game that will be televised on ESPNU (6 p.m. kick).
“Me and Steele (Jantz) were just on the same page,” West said of last year’s game. “We practice all week knowing our leverages and coverages and it showed up in that game and we just finished it.”
Iowa State’s offense managed to rack up 557 yards of total offense against the Bears.
JOTTINGS ON JARVIS
— Did you know that West, a junior out of St. Petersburg, Fla., is not much of a talker?
“It’s a good thing you can hand-signal on the field out there to communicate because if he had to yell the plays in or yell what the guy next to him is supposed to be doing, it would not be good,” Messingham said.
— West’s 95-yard kickoff return against Texas Tech was the third longest in Iowa State history and the first return for a score since Troy David did it back in 1994.
West said that he hadn’t returned a kick for a score since his high school days – not one that actually counted at least. Who can forget the phantom hold that was called against Iowa State on an explosive West return in the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl?
“It was devastating,” West said of that painful memory. “We practiced all week and kept saying that we were going to get one. I finally hit one and then it got called back. It took everything out of me.”
Of course, I followed up and asked West if he thought there was a hold on that play.
“No, of course not,” West said. “We worked hard and he actually gave me a good block, I ran around it and I was just hurt.”
Did he think that a flag would be thrown last Saturday?
“The crowd was kind of quiet so I figured that it was going to count this time.”