Jan. 5, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State consensus All-American Jerel Worthy, who anchored a Spartan defensive unit that led the Big Ten in rushing defense (100.5 yards per game), total defense (277.4 ypg.) and sacks (45), announced Thursday, Jan. 5 that he will forgo his senior season and enter the 2012 National Football League Draft. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior defensive tackle produced a tackle for loss in nine of MSU's 14 games.
The deadline for underclassmen to declare themselves eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft is Sunday, Jan. 15.
Worthy earned First-Team All-America honors from The Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Walter Camp Football Foundation, CBSSports.com, Yahoo! Sports and NBCSports.com. He became the first Spartan defensive lineman to earn AP First-Team All-America honors since defensive end Charles "Bubba" Smith in 1966. In addition, Worthy was named one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award (college lineman of the year), one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) and one of 20 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (presented to Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year).
A first-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media, Worthy ranked fourth on the team in tackles for loss (10.5 for 42 yards), including 3.5 sacks (28 yards). He recorded 30 tackles (19 solos, 11 assists) and was credited with 14 quarterback hits and 10 QB hurries.
"I feel like the timing is right for me to pursue my dream of playing in the National Football League," Worthy said. "As a team, we went out and accomplished most of our goals: winning a Big Ten Championship (2010), playing in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, beating Michigan multiple times and winning a New Year's Day bowl game. In addition, I was able to accomplish my personal goal of being named a consensus All-American. So those were all key factors in my decision to enter the NFL Draft.
"I also had to take my family situation into account, as my dad suffered a stroke during the 2010 season. In fact, I set out to help win that 2010 Big Ten Championship in his name, and I feel strongly that I have a responsibility to provide financial support to my family.
"The most difficult part about arriving at this decision is leaving my teammates and this football program. I was fortunate to play on a special defense this season. Coach (Mark) Dantonio has done a remarkable job of getting this program back to where it needs to be. This is a special place, and I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to grow and mature as a man here. It's been a great life experience, but I had to make the decision to go because it's in the best interest of my family.
"This program is in great shape, and I'm confident that the best is yet to come for Spartan football."
"Jerel Worthy was a three-year starter, and throughout his career, he displayed his ability to make big plays," MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. "Over the last two years, he has had dominating performances. This year, Jerel helped anchor a defensive front seven that ranked first in the Big Ten against the run all season long. The exciting part is I believe his best days as a player are still ahead of him, so I expect him to perform extremely well at the next level.
"He has handled this entire process with dignity and class and that speaks volumes about him as a person. Jerel is in his fourth academic year and I know that completing his undergraduate degree is extremely important to him."
Worthy closed out his collegiate career in style by matching his career high in tackles (5) and tackles for loss (2 for 2 yards) in MSU's 33-30 triple-overtime win over No. 18 Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl.
He tied a career high with two tackles for loss (3 yards) in the 55-3 win over Indiana. In its 37-21 win at Iowa, MSU limited Marcus Coker, the nation's sixth-leading rusher, to just 57 yards on 21 carries - 65 yards below his season rushing average.
Worthy made three tackles in MSU's 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin, including one for a 2-yard loss. He had two stops in MSU's 28-14 win over No. 11 Michigan, including a 4-yard half sack. Worthy also produced two tackles in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, with 1.5 tackles for loss including a 5-yard sack.
He registered four stops and recovered a fumble at Notre Dame. Worthy wore retired jersey No. 95 against the Irish as a tribute to former two-time All-American "Bubba" Smith, who passed away in early August. Smith's final game as a Spartan came in the 1966 "Game of the Century" between the No. 1 Irish and No. 2 Spartans that ended in a 10-10 tie.
The Huber Heights, Ohio, native started 38 of 40 career games and recorded 107 tackles, with 27.5 resulting in losses (118 yards) including 12 sacks (78 yards). Those marks rank among MSU's all-time leaders: tied for 12th in sacks and 13th in tackles for loss. He also blocked three kicks.