Conventional wisdom is that "the breaks" even out over time. You may have a hard time selling that to Kentucky safety Darius West.
It was the summer between West's junior and senior seasons at Ohio's Lima Central Catholic High School when he broke the tibia in his right leg for the first time.
"I was doing one-on-one (drills). I just jumped up and came down wrong," West said.
It was in January of his senior year of high school — after West had said no to scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Louisville to verbally commit to Mark Stoops' UK rebuilding effort — when he broke the bone in his right leg for the second time.
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"I was doing box drills," West said, referring to an exercise where one jumps off the ground onto the top of a box. "I came down wrong. It just snapped."
It was last August, practicing as a member of the Kentucky Wildcats, when he broke the bone in his right leg for the third time.
"I got two days in, then it broke on me again," West said with a rueful head shake Friday at UK football Media Day. "I just had to stick with my faith in God, that He had my back. He was just showing me different routes, (that) you gotta go through different things."
As Kentucky's Sept. 5 opener with Louisiana-Lafayette approaches, it is hard to imagine there is any UK football player more excited to step onto the C.M. Newton Field in game action than the 6-foot, 206-pound West.
Due to his leg problems, he has played in only two real football games, both as a high school senior, since his junior year at Lima Central Catholic.
The good news is that West, ranked a four-star 2014 recruit by all four major scouting services, participated full tilt in UK spring practice this year.
"He went through every practice this spring. No problems," Kentucky defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley said. "He only came to me one time and said, 'Coach, can you get me out of this play?' And that was because he was cramping. It wasn't anything to do with his leg."
After the first time he broke his leg in high school, West and his family chose to let it try to heal naturally. After the second break, he underwent the surgical insertion of a rod.
In retrospect, West has come to regard the third break during his second day of practice at UK "as a blessing in disguise" since it happened before the season and did not cost him a year of eligibility.
Now, West says he has faith that he will not break the same leg for a fourth time. "The trainers I've got down here, the doctors who worked on my leg, are some of the best in the country," West said. "Coach Stoops has faith in the doctors. I have faith in them, too."
Kentucky coaches almost beam at the prospect of what a healthy Darius West could mean for the Cats. "Darius is an excellent run-filling safety," UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. "He's very physical. He's fast."
Ansley says "pound-for-pound, (West is) probably one of the strongest and most explosive players on the team. He's got that really defensive mentality. He's all-serious all the time. He's a real guy. We're expecting big things out of him."
At present, Ansley says West is more effective closer to the line of scrimmage than he is down the field. "One thing we are trying to improve is playing the ball on the deep parts," Ansley said.
If West enjoys success during his redshirt freshman season, he will be able to celebrate on the UK campus with an old friend from Lima, Ohio — Wildcats basketball point guard Tyler Ulis.
"We grew up together," Ulis said last year of West. "He stayed at my house all the time. We played football together, basketball together. I've known him since, I think, I was 5 years old."
Last season, after Ulis made clutch plays late in Kentucky's road victory over archrival Louisville, @D_1west25 took to Twitter to exult: He need to be the starting PG and play damn near the whole game #flatout.
Of Ulis, West says it was "good to see one of my homeboys I grew up with in college doing his thing. That's real big to me. It motivates me to go out there and perform."
If West can avoid, well, bad breaks, he may give his buddy Ulis some things to tweet about this fall.
"I'm real anxious," Darius West says, "to play in a game, man."