When the Colts host the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium during the 2023 season, Jayson West plans to be in the stands to catch a matchup he saw years ago.
West, the former head football coach at Warren Central High School on Indianapolis' east side, in practice used to pit star wide receiver David Bell – now with the Browns – against his star cornerback, Julius Brents, who the Colts selected in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
"And that's how you want it — you want your best on your best," West said. "You want to push each other as much as you possibly can."
West, now the head football coach at Franklin Central High School, joined this week's episode of the Official Colts Podcast to offer his perspective on Brents, the local kid brimming with NFL upside. You can download and listen to the full episode, including West's interview, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
"Both of those young men are such first-class people — that's why they're at where they're at, and they made it fun every day," West said. "They made it exciting. As a coach, I got to witness some of the coolest things every just watch them run around, catch balls, jump around defense — doing things no one else can do."
Through those battles with Bell – who was "so dominant," West said, "guarding him was impossible" – Brents not only sharpened his skills as a defensive back, but he developed the kind of mental toughness necessary to cut it in the NFL.
"When (Bell would) ever get the best of Julius, Julius would just do that hard hand clap and then it was gone," West said. "He knew. We always talked about that — you got to have short-term memory loss as a defensive back.
"... Coaches are looking for those resilient, undeniable type characters and that's what they are. It doesn't mean they don't care. They care so much. Sometimes kids care so much they melt themselves — you know, paralysis by analysis type deal. But they do care but they also have that ability to move forward. He's probably going to be expected to play as a rookie, he's going to go against the world's best. I'm sure he's gonna have some good days and bad days and everything in between, but I guarantee you it won't keep happening because he's gonna go right back to film, he's gonna go right back to the field to work and that's just who he is, what he is and how he was raised.
"So I feel pretty confidence that he's gonna keep expanding his game and improving just like he's done that last couple of years, and we're gonna see some great things out of him because of his mentality."