It's no shock that the Michigan State Spartans' All-American defensive tackle Jerel Worthy opted Wednesday to enter April's 2012 NFL Draft.
No shock whatsoever. In fact, he probably could have left after his sophomore season, but fortunately for the Spartans, who won the the 2012 Outback Bowl by way of a 33-30 triple-overtime thriller over the 16th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs on Monday, Worthy stuck around and solidified the team's front four.
Walter Football projects Worthy as a late first-round pick, suggesting that the New England Patriots could select the 6-foot-3, 310-pound ferocious defender with the 31st overall pick. However, after a somewhat up-and-down junior season, Worthy dropped to the ninth-best defensive tackle, according to Walter Football, after being touted as a top-five talent just months ago by some draft experts.
But with a monstrous performance in the Outback Bowl, Worthy, who had five tackles and pressured Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray nearly to no end Monday, will probably move up a few spots once Walter Football revises its mock drafts.
Regardless of the outcome this season for Michigan State, which won the Big Ten Legends Division and reached the Big Ten Championship Game this season after a 10-2 regular season record, Worthy's declaration for the draft was expected by most.
Likely a first-round pick, Worthy has millions of dollars waiting for him—and that amount of money is enough to lure anyone out of college. He started 37 games at defensive tackle for Michigan State and is 12th in program history with 12 sacks. He's among the Spartans' leading tacklers and has several personal accolades highlighting an illustrious resume, which includes three 30-plus tackle seasons.
Not to mention, he was the first Spartans' first defensive lineman to earn Associated Press All-American honors since the great Bubba Smith did so in 1966. That's an incredible feat, considering the amount of talented players that have played at Michigan State.
"(Worthy is) a big, explosive athlete, who has the ability to make plays in the offensive backfield," said Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, according to Worthy's MSU bio page.
Spartans followers would have probably wished for nothing more than Worthy's return. The team is already losing senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, receivers Keith Nichol and BJ Cunningham, along with a handful of others.
Imagine Worthy's senior season, anchoring a defense that would feature a matured and improved Will Gholston, Chris Norman, Max Bullough and Denicos Allen. The potency of the Spartans' defense would theoretically grow exponentially, and with Worthy in the mix, benefit from a veteran's presence since senior
Trenton Robinson also played his last game Monday with Michigan State.
Worthy could help the Spartans go further next season, but he's already accomplished in three years what most college athletes could hope to do in four. Choosing the NFL Draft is the right call. Luck forbid an injury next fall, or some other catastrophe that would potentially impact his draft status. Worthy has to strike while the iron is hot, and won't get any hotter than it is right now.