Four-star safety West out for season

Darius West, a four-star recruit at a position of need for Kentucky, will not play this season because of a lower leg injury, Coach Mark Stoops confirmed.

“He got hurt yesterday,” Stoops said Wednesday morning of the freshman safety. “So, it’s a real shame. He’s a good player. He’s everything we thought he was going to be. Really talented football player.

“He came in with an injury. We thought it was healed up. Didn’t work out, so he’ll be out for the year.”

West, a 6-foot safety from Lima, Ohio, broke his leg in June of 2013, then posted an Instragram picture in January saying he broke the same leg and was undergoing surgery.

As is his fall camp policy, Stoops was not specific about whether or not it was the same leg that has caused West issues in the past, describing the injury only as a “lower leg injury.”

“Darius has got a lot of ability and we were excited about working with him,” defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “At that position, we needed depth and losing one of those guys is something we didn’t need to happen.”

Craig Naivar, the Cats’ safeties coach, said they thought West’s injury was behind him.

Anytime you lose a guy for a season, it’s a surprise,” he said of the player who was rated as the eighth-best player in the state of Ohio and the 18th best cornerback in the nation by ESPN. “You never want that to happen. But those things are going to happen, but you have to deal with them.”

But Naivar, who said West showed promise early and likely would’ve been in the mix at safety this season, tried to be pragmatic about the injury.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Naivar said. “He’s been great with it. He’s doing a great job finishing up his summer school classes, so he’s got some focus there. It’s a good gauge of his mental toughness, his upbringing, where he’s from and how he’s been raised to do that the right way. You take a positive of any situation and that’s the positive of that.”

On signing day in February, Stoops was high on West.

“We need him to be ready,” the head coach said. “He’s a guy that I’d be shocked if he didn’t come in and have an immediate impact. Darius is very, very explosive guy.”

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at jsmith3@herald-leader.com.
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