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Villanova’s Brian Westbrook set his goals high.
"I wanted to be the best in the country," the Wildcats’ star running back said. "Nobody practices to be second best. I did everything twice as hard, twice as much so I would be twice as prepared.
"I wanted to put myself in position so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything, so everything that comes to me on the football field is easy."
Westbrook’s hard work paid off as he completed his college career with the NCAA’s all-division record for career all-purpose yardage and he was selected as the Maxwell Football Club’s Tri-State Player of the Year.
Westbrook’s versatility helped Villanova to an 8-3 record in the 2001 season and a share of first place in the Atlantic 10 Conference. He won the Walter Payton Award as the top player in Division 1-AA. In 1997, another Villanova player, wide receiver Brian Finneran, won the same award.
Westbrook was names to the Associated Press Division 1-AA All-America first team for the third time. In 1998, he became the first back in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards and gain another 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. He suffered torn knee ligaments the following year and missed the entire 1999 season before returning to the lineup for his final two collegiate seasons.
In 2001, Westbrook rushed for 1,603 yards and caught 59 passes for 658 yards. He also returned punts and kickoffs and averaged 256 yards in all-purpose offense each game as a senior. ESPN’s Mel Kiper rates Westbrook as the No. 2 running back prospect in the 2001 draft behind only DeShaun Foster of UCLA.
"My team put me in position to succeed this year," Westbrook said. "They helped me out so much. They blocked on the line, they blocked downfield. It’s hard to talk about personal accomplishments because they contributed so much."
Westbrook considered leaving school early to enter the 2001 NFL draft, but he chose to play his senior season because he was so impressed by the selfless attitude of his teammates.
"I was watching films and you’d see wide receivers 20 yards downfield, looking for somebody to block," Westbrook told Mike Kern of the Philadelphia Daily News. "I saw how much this team cared, really cared, about winning. I appreciate that more than anything."
"If we were a 5-6 team again, I wouldn’t have won any of these awards, even if I got all the numbers. Voters don’t want to hear that."
Westbrook already has graduated from Villanova with a degree in management information systems and he is currently enrolled in the school’s Masters degree program.