One of the best defensive performances during the Kay Yow Spring game belonged to redshirt junior defensive end Forrest West. The Colorado-transfer found himself in the backfield early and often while lining up with the reserve defensive linemen.
This fall, West feels even more comfortable.
"It's definitely not as big a learning curve as it was in the spring," he said. "What I am doing now kind of feels more natural. Now I am reacting, I know what I am doing."
West acknowledged that the spring game gave him confidence that he has a role on the team, even with a crowded and deep depth chart at defensive end.
He also believes that a grueling summer conditioning program installed by first year strength coach Corey Edmond is also paying dividends.
"Camp-wise, I feel like I am in the best shape I've ever been in for a fall camp," he said. "And this is my fourth year doing a fall camp. Body is not as dinged up or beat up as it had been because we trained harder than we have ever trained before."
That all leads up to NC State's season opener Aug. 31 against Tennessee in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. It's been a while since West has had a chance to hit someone in an opposite color jersey.
The last time he did so was as a true sophomore at Colorado in 2010. He had 19 tackles, including 5.5 sacks and an additional three more hits for losses, during that season. A coaching change led to a transfer to NC State and forced him to sit out last season.
"This past year was the longest year of my life," West joked. "I'm just ready for it to happen. It feels like I haven't played a game in 10 years almost.
"I just focus on going hard every play, getting my job done. No mental errors, no loafs. I just push myself in doing what I can do to the best of my ability."