MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With summer workouts in full-sweat and the start of West Virginia preseason camp less than a month away, MetroNews continues counting down our Top 10 Most Pivotal Players for the 2014 season. Today we highlight a budding star in the secondary:
No. 2 DARYL WORLEY
Measurables: 6-1, 200
While encouraging signs were scarce for West Virginia’s 106th-ranked pass defense last season, the raves poured in for Worley. The most physically mature member of the freshman class played safety and nickel back before settling at corner, the spot he’ll occupy full-time in 2014.
Through 11 games and five starts, Worley tied for the seventh on the squad with 45 tackles and ranked second with five pass breakups. His first-half interception at Baylor was the only pick Bryce Petty through during the season’s first 10 games. (During the one game Worley sat out with a shin injury, West Virginia allowed Kansas State to complete 18-of-21 passes.)
Worley has clicked with cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell since his senior year at William Penn Charter in Philadelphia, when the assistant came to watch him run the 100-meter hurdles and re-solidified the scholarship offer initially extended by Jake Spavital. Another boon to their teacher-pupil relationship: Mitchell has transitioned his corners from the shuffle method to a backpedal technique Worley played in high school.
Continued development from Worley is crucial in allowing West Virginia to play more man coverage. And with Big 12 quarterbacking projected to be more settled in 2014, playing pass defense isn’t going to get any easier.