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George West: West still treasures 2006 score against Purdue

Chris Michalski | Friday, November 20, 2009

In 2006, Notre Dame was stocked with talent and headed toward a BCS bowl. It was not surprising to fans then when quarterback Brady Quinn marched his offense 70 yards down the field for a score capped by an 11-yard end-around on the first drive of the game against Purdue.

But to senior wide receiver George West, this play meant much more. He was the receiver who scampered into the end zone for the score, his first and only touchdown of his Notre Dame career. The play was the only time West touched the ball on offense that game, but it was his favorite memory and a moment he said he would never forget.

West had his best production his sophomore year when he tallied 172 receiving yards and 22 return yards. He also notched 271 return yards his freshman year where he started on the kick return team. Although his injuries his junior year have caused his playing time to decrease late in his Notre Dame career, nothing has taken away from his overall experience as a Irish football player.

“I’m happy to be a part of it. It’s something that helps me keep my head up, something to strive for,” West said. “I’m not just playing for myself; I’m playing for the story, the University.  Wearing that gold helmet means a lot to me.”

With all of the special places on Notre Dame’s campus that are filled with tradition, the Grotto, Touchdown Jesus and Stonehenge, there are many things that all students can enjoy. But running through the tunnel and onto the field is one thing that is reserved for football players, and something West will never experience after this season.

“[Coming out of the tunnel] is something that you can’t compare, something that you can’t duplicate,” West said. “Coming out of that tunnel is an opportunity that a lot of people don’t get, something a lot of people wish they could do. It’s something I’m really going to miss.”

Although West’s favorite place on campus, and what he calls his second home is the Guglielmino Athletic Complex, his story doesn’t end with football. Like many student-athletes at Notre Dame, getting a good education is just as important for West. In fact, the academics of Notre Dame were on par with its tradition as far as what drew West to campus.

“You might see good football somewhere and you might see good academics somewhere but you don’t see both at many schools, and the combination of both is really what brought me here,” he said.

West is currently enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business as a finance major.

“I love numbers, and it kind of gave me the opportunity in the big picture to work with numbers and work with people.”

He said both his parents are the main contributors in getting him to where he is today.

“They helped me with my work ethic and they taught me what it means to be a hard-working guy, a stand-up guy,” West said.

What has really made West’s experience unforgettable is the people he experienced it with. He said his favorite things about Irish football are his teammates and getting to know people in general.

“There are a lot of guys that since I’ve been here have become my best friends,” West said “They are friends for life, friends that I will never forget.”

Specifically, West is closest with his roommates, running back James Aldridge and linebacker Toryan Smith.

“They are guys I’m with every day,” he said. “Guys I knew since I’ve been here, when I came early with them.  We’ve been in this relationship together for about four years now and it should just keep going from there.”

Already proving this point true, West paused halfway through talking to laugh and say goodbye to a friend, a teammate, as he left the Guglielmino.