- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
This weekend will be big for ESPN Watch List safety Darius West (Lima, Ohio/Lima Central Catholic). It is not a regional final like he hoped, but Saturday he will get a better feel for where he stands with one program he considered to be in his top two this summer.
Michigan was West’s favorite along with Ohio State when both were heavily interested this summer, but as contact with the Wolverines staff has tapered off so has West’s feelings for the program.
He will get a better understanding as to how the coaches view him Saturday when he visits Ann Arbor when the Wolverines host Iowa.
“That’s a question I’m going to ask them: Where do I stand on their 2014 list?” West said. “... I haven’t been communicating with them in no kind of way but mail, but the mail doesn’t mean nothing.
That doesn’t mean West, who allowed only two catches at cornerback all season, still is not excited for his weekend visit.
“I’m just looking forward to the way the players play and coaches go about themselves, how they [the players] warm up, the discipline of the team, how smart they are,” West said.
The Buckeyes are still showing West a lot of interest, however, and he spoke with assistant coach Tim Hinton on Monday. West visited for the Central Florida game earlier this season and will be back for the game against Michigan on Nov. 24.
“He was excited I’m coming out to the game and [talked about] what the coaches think about me and they liked my highlight tape,” West said.
The 5-foot-10, 183-pound West has an early top six, and while he said there is no order, the Buckeyes are right around the top. Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue and Wisconsin make up the rest of West’s top group. Cincinnati, Illinois and Purdue have offered.
The Bearcats have hosted West several times, and he has a great relationship with the coaches there.
“I know the coaches personally, all their families and a lot of the players, and the players tell me about the campus and school and academic wise it’s real good,” he said. “Coach [Butch] Jones is a good coach.”
West also took a trip out to Indiana in October when the Hoosiers hosted Ohio State.
“I really like Indiana actually. The coaches are real cool and they’d love to have me at the school,” West said. “They’re going to offer me but just don’t know when they’re going to finish in 2013.”
The Illini were the first to offer West and that has stuck with him as more programs enter the fold.
“I loved the atmosphere and everything is so nice there,” he said. “[The coaches] seem like really loyal people.”
Purdue and West have talked a few times, and while they are in his top group, he wants to find out more about the school before the Boilermakers can move up some in his top group.
As for the Badgers, West is keeping in constant contact with Chris Ash and Ben Strickland.
“I just love the way their defense plays, and I’ve been talking to three coaches for a while and we’re building a great relationship,” West said. “They wanted me to come for the [Nov. 17 Ohio State] game but I might come down for a camp this summer.”
On the season, West tallied 47 tackles and intercepted five passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also forced two fumbles and recovered another, and he scored on special teams on a kickoff return. Offensively, West caught 25 passes for 587 yards and six touchdowns.