Michigan State junior defensive tackle Jerel Worthy is forgoing his senior season and heading to the NFL.
Worthy, rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 4 defensive tackle and No. 19 prospect overall, is viewed as a run-stuffing presence with enough quickness to collapse the pocket as a pass rusher. The talented defensive tackle is featured in both Rob Rang and Dane Brugler's current first round projections. Worthy ranks behind just Penn State's Devon Still, North Carolina's Quinton Coples and Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox. Unlike Coples and Cox, who played a great deal of defensive end throughout their collegiate careers, Worthy is a pure defensive tackle -- though his bulk and long arms make him an intriguing candidate to play the edge in a 3-4 alignment.
Despite the lofty ranking Worthy's decision didn't come easy to him. According to Detroit Free Press sportswriter George Sipple, Worthy acknowledged the impact his family's health and well-being had in his decision to leave East Lansing early.
In a prepared statement Worthy said, “After a lot of deliberation with my family, a lot of sleepless nights, I decided, for the benefit of myself as well as my family and my future, I would forgo my senior year.”
He later referred to his father, who suffered a stroke before the start of the 2010 season.
“I set out to help win the 2010 Big Ten championship in his name, and I feel strongly that I have a responsibility to provide financial support for my family.”
Though he only registered 30 tackles (including 10.5 tackles for loss, three sacks) in 2011, Worthy was a key contributor to Michigan State's stellar defense. His unit, which led the Big Ten in total defense and run defense, gave him the notoriety to earn AP first team All-American honors -- the first Spartan to be honored by the Associated Press since the legendary Bubba Smith was recognized in 1966.
Worthy leaves Michigan State having accumulated 107 tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks in 40 career games.