When Chris Worley came to Ohio State, he had doubts about where he would play, but he never had any doubts about whether or not he could play.
The first fall camp for a freshman can be like swimming upstream in a white water rapid, and that’s for the guys only having to learn one position. For Worley, it was even worse. He would spend half the day with the linebackers, then the other half with the safeties.
Ultimately, it worked out, just as Urban Meyer told him it would at the time.
“It was tough but the only thing I did was put my head down and went as hard as I could,” Worley said. “Coach Meyer told me, ‘I don’t know what you’re going to play, but if you just keep going next year you’ll find a way,’ and that’s what I did. It was a struggle but at the end of the day it made me better.”
Fast-forward four years, and now Worley is Ohio State’s middle linebacker, playing the position for the first time in his career. There may be questions from the outside, but Worley has been asking for this type of opportunity for a while now.
“I always used to tell Coach Fick, ‘Put me in that box’,” he said. “You kind of saw that the last few games, Michigan State and That Team Up North, I played in the box a lot based on the type of offense. I did pretty good. Double-digit tackles against The Team Up North, eight tackles against Michigan State and an interception. I’m very comfortable in the box so I’m just excited to see how it all unfolds.”
The unfolding is already underway and by all accounts there has been no second guessing from Worley or his coaches, not that anybody expected second guessing from Worley.
“I’ve always been crazy-confident,” he said. “You can ask any coach, when I’m on that field I’m just different. You can ask J.T. or whoever. I’ve always been crazy-confident but I’m just being more vocal about it now. A lot of times the outside world can’t see how confident or whatever you call it, cocky or talk too much or over-vocal, but I’ve always had it. I kind of went with the flow. I didn’t want to be the biggest loudmouth that wasn’t really touching the field in the way that I wanted to. Sometimes it’s better to just go under the radar and just help the team in any way that they need you, but I feel like now I’m in a position where I can be more vocal.”
As the leader of the defense, the Buckeyes are relying on Worley to get everybody where they need to be. Having called several different positions home, he knows the defense as well as a middle linebacker needs to. He then combines that knowledge with a very unique skill set, as well as a cavalcade of confidence.
“I feel like I’m one of the most dynamic players in the country, honestly,” he said. “I played safety and did pretty good at safety, had a couple of hard hits during camp. Then they asked me to move to Sam. I moved to Sam and battled with a first-rounder to the end of the first game. That speaks a lot about Darron (Lee), but it also speaks a lot about myself.
“That was a battle that I’ll never forget because it made us both better. That’s two positions right there, and I can also play Mike or Will and play it as well as the best of them, so it speaks to how Coach Meyer and Coach Fickell and now Coach Davis and Coach Schiano, how they sort of raised the linebacker group to be able to feed off of each other, but I also put the work in, so I’m ready for it.”