BELTON- It has been two full years since a native of Belton, the city in which UMHB has established a D-III football powerhouse, has appeared on the Crusaders’ roster. But that time is over. Joining former All-American Tevin Jones, former All-ASC defensive back Brodrick Crain, and so many other Belton natives in donning the purple and gold is Trent West. Part of the incoming class of 2022 high school graduates, the cornerback starred for Belton High School for three seasons, accumulating all-district honors, and leading a young Tiger defense during his junior year.
In fact, West earned honors from a number of notable college programs, including Texas Southern (D-I FCS), West Texas A&M (D-II) and Midwestern State (D-II). But he elected to stay in Belton, joining the Crusaders, after a successful visit to the campus in late February.
True To The Cru recently caught up with the 6’3, 170 lb standout, getting his thoughts on his commitment to UMHB, playing career as a Belton Tiger, and much more.
What made UMHB the program for you?
TW: “I love getting that question. I did have many options, and went on visits to schools across Texas. I narrowed my options down to two schools, then UMHB offered. I didn’t think much of it, just because I had grown up in Belton and around UMHB my whole life. I remember going to UMHB games as a kid, when they played at Tiger Field. But I went on the visit, and was blown away. Coach Harmon showed up and took the time out of his day to show me the campus and during the visit, I was like, ‘This really feels like home.’ I had a different type of feeling on that visit than I did at other schools. I took a few days to talk it over with my family, and then ended up committing three days later. It is a crazy story because initially I had never thought I would end up there.”
You were a three-year starter at Belton High School, located just a couple of miles down the road from UMHB. How did your playing career there allow you to grow in your skill set?
TW: “I was put on varsity as a sophomore, and played under one coaching staff that year, and then the entire coaching staff was changed before my junior year. So my teammates and I went through some adversity with the coaching change and getting used to a new playbook, which really brought us together. That’s what I got out of my high school career the most, was forming that brotherhood. We worked together for one common goal, and I developed a lot of great friendships during my career there.”
One unique opportunity you had after your high school season was over came in the Heart of Texas FCA Victory Bowl on June 4. What was that experience like, being part of an event where so many high schools from all over Central Texas were represented?
TW: “Two of my other buddies also got selected, so we went up there that week and stayed in a host home and really connected with God and all the other people from around Central Texas. It was a great experience. It was awesome to represent Belton as well. That really meant a lot to me. I had a Temple kid on one of my teams, which felt weird since we’re such big rivals. It’s a great example of how we all came together for one last high school game [with bitter rivals wearing the same colors].”
You mentioned the rivalry between Temple and Belton. Obviously the future of that [with the two schools now in different classifications] is up in the air, but what did getting to play in that contest mean to you as a Belton native?
TW: “Belton-Temple is insane. The atmosphere is crazy. Growing up with that, and getting to play them twice during my high school career, experiencing that game week is just different. Getting out there and coming through the tunnel, seeing one side of the stands covered in red and the other covered in blue is a different type of atmosphere.”
Starting as a sophomore is no easy task. But it certainly seemed to benefit you later on in your high school career. What did you take away from that experience?
TW: “Going into my sophomore year, I was starting, and my first game was against Westlake on the road. Playing on varsity that year made me become a leader, and step up. It really helped me in my junior year, because all of the seniors had left, and I had to take control of the defense and be a leader on that side of the ball.”
After spending your high school career in a program where a team-first mentality was valued, how important was it to find a college program with that same kind of “family” atmosphere?
TW: “I’ve been a part of football teams where everybody has their own group, and it’s not a good feeling. And you don’t play well on the field. So for all the coaches that I talked to during the recruiting process, my No. 1 question was, ‘How is the brotherhood in the program?’ And not just with the players, but also the coaches and everyone else involved. That was one of the main things I really looked for. Going on visits to some of the other programs [that had offered me], I didn’t feel that, but as soon as I stepped on campus here, and saw how they did everything and talked to one another, I could see the bond and brotherhood they have going there.”
What are you most excited for entering your freshman year? Do you have any goals for your time on the field?
TW: “I’m just really excited to get on the field and start playing football again. One of my main goals is to make the varsity roster this season, which is a goal I will have to strive for. And I’m just excited to meet new people and my teammates here in a few weeks [when fall camp starts].”