REGINA - The first time Joe West was here, he grabbed the football, held it tight and opened some eyes.
A month later, he’s still holding two footballs he took home from Mosaic Stadium.
On the Calgary Stampeders’ first offensive series Aug. 25, Kevin Glenn sailed a beautiful pass through a howling wind to West for a 34-yard major.
That ball was souvenir No. 1.
The second one came when he was handed the offensive game ball following the 17-10 victory.
Both of those momentos will be eventually shipped back to Dallas to West’s mother. Keepsakes from an unforgettable professional debut.
“It will be a nice little Christmas present for her,” West said. “She already has the frames for them. She’s ready.
“She’s excited about what I’m doing. She expects me to come out here and make plays. She knows I work hard every day and how I take it seriously.”
West had a rollercoaster ride to start his CFL tenure, but he should be used to turmoil by now.
In training camp, the 28-year-old suffered a quad injury and was released so the Stamps could get down in numbers.
Once the season started, he was placed on the practice roster, eventually making his way to active duty because of injuries to the receiving corps.
Now it appears the Stamps simply can’t pry him from his spot, even when other options are available.
“Joe is doing well,” Stamps head coach John Hufnagel said. “The opportunities he’s had, he’s done well with them. His assignments are good so I’m not disappointed in him. The young man has a bright future ahead in the CFL.”
For a few years, West wasn’t sure if he would make it into pro football.
After finishing school at the University of Texas-El Paso, he signed in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys, and then the New Orleans Saints before playing two years in the defunct United Football League.
He held onto his dream and finally found a place with the Stampeders.
“It can take a toll on a player as an individual,” West said. “It can discourage you a little bit if you let it.
“I don’t let it break me. I let it make me. I try to stay positive off it and build from it. I know how good I am at the end of the day. I go out there and pay attention to little details and try to get better.”
One of the things West is working on now is blocking. As a route runner, he knows how to get open, and he does remind some of the former No. 85 with the Stampeders, Ken-Yon Rambo.
In his first game, he made a grab worthy of a star CFL receiver.
“It was foundation,” West said of the catch. “Seeing where I am with the competition.
“I’m on the same level as everybody else. I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder. My teammates do too. I feel like I have so much more to prove because I’ve lost so much time on the field, being in front of the fans and having fun.
“Now I go out and have fun every day.”