April 27, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State consensus All-American Jerel Worthy has been selected by the Green Bay Packers in the second round (No. 51 overall) of the 2012 National Football League Draft Friday, April 27. The 6-2, 308-pound junior defensive tackle 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) in 2011.
Worthy becomes the highest-drafted defensive player from Michigan State since linebacker Julian Peterson was selected No. 16 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 2000. The Spartans have had at least one player chosen every year since the inception of the common NFL Draft in 1967.
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 produced a tackle for loss in nine of MSU's 14 games. Worthy recorded 30 tackles (19 solos, 11 assists) and was credited with 14 quarterback hits and 10 QB hurries.
"Today is definitely an exciting day, for myself as well as my friends and my family," said Worthy. "We've come a long way. There's no better organization than the Green Bay Packers to be affiliated with, just to be able to go out and play for.
"The wait yesterday was a little frustrating, but at the same time, it humbled me and allowed me to really take in why I'm playing this game. I have that fire, that chip on my shoulder. I'll roll with it, and I'm ready to make an impact right away.
"I was just trying to be patient - I knew my time would come. Green Bay saw my potential and that I could make some plays. I'm just ready to get after it and prove to people I'm a great player.
"I got the call from the general manager (Ted Thompson), and he said we're going to trade up to get you. It was just unbelievable to talk with the general manager of the Green Bay Packers. I was just excited. They said they were just going to make sure that I fit in well. I think I'll be able to fit into the scheme quite well. With B.J. Raji on one side, Nick Perry coming off another edge, and Clay Matthews, the front seven can continue to work together, and we can continue to make a lot of plays. Wherever they use me, whether it's first down, second down, third down, I'm going to have an impact and I'm going to make sure I make it worth it."
"The Green Bay Packers are getting a young man who wants to please people, so he's going to be an extremely hard worker," head coach Mark Dantonio said. "Jerel possesses all the tangible skills: explosiveness, first-step quickness and power. So he has the ability to make big plays in the offensive backfield. Jerel is a very intelligent player, who understands concepts and what offenses are trying to do against him. He also understands the difference between playing for a successful team, finishing out his career with back-to-back 11-win seasons, or an average team, like we had in 2009. Jerel definitely has the athletic ability to play this game at the highest level, so we look forward to watching him play in this league for quite a while."
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.