The Coatesville (Pa.) High athlete became the seventh member of Penn State's Class of 2014 early Friday morning, committing to head coach Bill O'Brien after narrowing his list to Penn State, Rutgers and Georgia Tech.
“I had always wanted a Penn State offer, and kept thinking man, if I get a Penn State offer, I really think I would go there,” Worley said Saturday before the Lower Merion Invitational Track and Field meet. “I didn't know what to do [when he received the offer in early April], and I was really surprised. Once everyone started talking to me, though, it became my number one school.”
A 5-foot-10, 175-pound FOX Sports NEXT three-star prospect, Worley played both running back and cornerback for Coatesville this past fall. His versatility is why State's staff is classifying him as an athlete. He expects to work in the secondary upon arrival at University Park in June of 2014.
The decision to choose Penn State, he said, had a lot to do with O'Brien, his recruiting coach (linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden), and strength and condition coach Craig Fitzgerald. But the academic opportunities he'll be presented with at the school were important, too. And the learning path he'll choose is a special one.
Worley grew up in a “rough area” of Coatesville, and in middle school, he would often see autistic children tormented by their peers. He said he decided right then and there that early childcare development would be the field he would pursue.
“I wanted to do it since I was in middle school -- if you weren't big and strong, you got picked on, and there were autistic kids that were picked on,” he explained. “I always want to try lending a hand, and that's why I want to go to school to help them.”
As for the coaches, Worley described his future mentors as strong-willed -- like him -- and identified with their willingness to come to a program facing NCAA sanctions and the hardships that come with it.
“What stood out to me was just how the program is going, even with the sanctions, and I respect Coach O'Brien going to a school with the hardship. He's prevailing, and I like that,” Worley said.
“The players, facilities, and their strength and conditioning coach stood out, too,” he added. “They can maximize my talent, and one of the things was, here's somebody from South Carolina that came up here to be a strength and conditioning coach. Why would he want to come up here? It means, to me, that he's a hard worker, and came here to put the hard work in to make his players better.”
Worley sees himself fitting well into that hard worker mold, too. The junior stressed that his offseason has been filled with bettering himself on the field, and he doesn't believe there is anyone that he couldn't out-will for success. His coach, Matt Ortega, echoed the same thoughts.
The Red Raiders head coach noted that his prospect is the player on his roster to “raise the level” of his teammates at all times. Worley says it's a role he enjoys fulfilling. He looks forward to fulfilling it as a Nittany Lion, too.
“My will of winning -- I want to do the things that are in the best interest for the team, and I want to win games,” Worley said. “On defense, I feel as though I can control everything. If I'm in man-to-man, and it's me and you, I'm always going to take me over you.
“I pride myself on that, and being a hungry player. I have to want it more, and that was instilled in me at a young age by my coaches. They told me the game of football is all about who wants it more, and I pride myself on wanting it more.”
Vanderlinden played a large role late in the process, and his trip to the school just outside of Philadelphia early last week would prove to be a clincher. Worley added that Vanderlinden met personally with his teachers, and gathered insight to help form a plan for him academically once he arrives at University Park. He said Vanderlinden helped “set me up for success.”
He also cited State's proximity to his home, and how it would allow his family to easily come see him play. That, and where his heart resided, won Penn State his commitment over Rutgers and Georgia Tech, whose staffs he praised.
“I thought it was going to take a couple more weeks, but my coaches were telling me Penn State needed a decision,” Worley explained. “I wanted to take a deep breath and sort of take a step back, but sometimes, you have to go with your heart, and the time was right for me.
“Penn State is a great school.”