The nation is finally observing what the Iowa State coaching staff has known all along. Jarvis West is a playmaker.
Now in his senior season, West has endured injuries throughout most of his Cyclone career which has hindered his productivity.
At just 5-7 and 171 pounds, West relies on his lightning-quick speed, quickness and maneuverability to counter for his lack of size. For most of his first three seasons as Cyclone, West wasn’t 100 percent health-wise.
Well, he is now, and he’s been a human highlight reel in 2014.
West, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., introduced himself to the nation on Sept. 6 when had a TD catch, TD pass and a punt return for a TD against No. 20 Kansas State, all in the first half. He ended the game with a career-high eight catches for 75 yards.
“I am trying to become more of a leader this year as a senior,” West said. “We have a lot of young talent at receiver and I need to be there for them.”
Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads isn’t shocked with what he’s seen out of West. He’s finally getting a chance to showcase his talents.
“Jarvis would have done all of this sooner if he would not of blown his hamstring as a freshman,” Rhoads said. “He’s had some soft tissue injuries and he injured his knee last season. I don’t think he has had an opportunity to compete like he is right now in the full extent of his career because of injuries.”
Rhoads will never forget what he saw out of West during his recruitment.
“His high school tape he was so stop-and-go quick, maybe as quick as anybody I have seen in the recruiting efforts,” said Rhoads. “He’s doing what we thought he could do now.”
West has been ISU’s leader on offense through the first three games. He leads the team in catches (15), ranks second in receiving yards (137) and leads the nation in punt return yardage per game (29.3).
His performance vs. Kansas State earned him numerous honors, including Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week, Hornung Award National Performer of the Week and College Football Performance Award (CFPA) Punt Returner of the Week.
The nation’s leader in punt returns gives us a hint what goes through his mind before fielding the punt.
“The most important part is catching it first,” West said. “Then you have to read your blocks and trust your teammates. Our punt return unit has a lot of pride in what they do. You can’t do it by yourself and my teammates have been a big factor in helping me.”
West’s unique trifecta (TD pass, TD catch, TD punt return) vs. Kansas State put him in rarified air as one of only two players in FBS or FCS to achieve that feat in a game since 1998.
With five TD catches in his career and a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD vs. Texas Tech last year, West is currently the only player in the nation with a TD catch, TD pass, TD rush, TD punt return and TD kickoff return in a career. He’s also just one of four players in ISU history to tally a kickoff return and punt return for a TD.
West has been added to the Hornung Award Watch List, an award given annually to college football’s most versatile and high-level performer.
Despite battling injuries in his career, West has had many memorable moments. As a sophomore in 2012, West caught three TD passes vs. Baylor to become one of just eight players in school history to record three or more TD receptions in a game.
He also has an opportunity end his Cyclone career as the best kickoff and punt returner in school history. His career 25.7 kickoff return average ranks second in ISU history and his 17.6 career punt return average is on pace to be the best clip in the annals of Cyclone history. He needs five punt returns to reach the 20-punt return minimum to be included.
It’s safe to say the secret is out on Jarvis West.