One of the major media memes for the upcoming Gamecock-Volunteer tilt is that true FR Justin Worley - making his first collegiate start (heck, scheduled to make his first collegiate passing attempt) will be motivated to excel against the Cocks because "Steve Spurrier" didn't recruit him out of Rock Hill (Northwestern) - even though USC coaches were burning rubber up-and-down I-77 recruiting Jadeveon Clowney and the Dixon brothers.
The Post & Courier's Andrew Miller recently chortled in a headline that the "Gamecocks let star QB get away". That had to be true, right? After all, Worley set every Palmetto State passing record, was the national Gatorade player of the year and led his Trojans to the AAAA-II state championship game. He also started for the Sandlappers in the Shrine Bowl. The Visor had snubbed the best in-state QB prospect since Willy Korn, hadn't he?. Or. worse, he and the staff were completely clueless than an amazing player was there for the taking - under their very noses all along - and the young man was so embittered by the disinterest emanating from the State's flagship university that he was forced to look to another program. Right?
In his recruiting Worley was considered a consensus 3 star in all the major services - with a reputation as a smart kid and hard worker, who put up big numbers in an "Air Raid" type offense with no run support to speak of. He had OK height (6'1"), but was a touch slow (4.8) and had an arm that wasn't quite elite status. Despite putting up great numbers as a sophomore and junior, he was forced to fight the whole "system QB " tag from his junior year forward. His partisans could not understand why he wasn't ranked a 4 star or better. To his credit, Worley never appeared to let the lack of recruiting service respect get to him.
All that being said, he nevertheless attracted some big time attention - especially from Tennessee. His other favorites were Notre Dame, LSU and FSU. He had an extremely respectable offer sheet - including offers from all his favorites, as well as Butch Davis's pre-scandal Tarheels, just to name a few.
The Vols clearly made Worley a priority and Worley reciprocated their interest - according to one blog source, Worley took no less than five unofficials to see the Volunteers during the 2010 season. It was Lane Kiffin's brother in law (and former USC coach) David Reaves who started his recruitment,which was pushed along by Worley's coach at Northwestern. The new staff didn't affect Worley's thinking at all - when decision-time came, it wasn't a hard choice at all. According to Worley's high school coach, the young QB fell in love with Knoxville.
"With their new coaching staff I really clicked with them and I really enjoyed spending time with them," Worley said in a 2010 interview with the Spartanburg paper. "Knoxville is a great town. I really like it there and I really like their campus and what they have to offer as a football program and a school. They've had good quarterbacks in the past and they know how to deal with quarterbacks there and know how to coach them." Worley committed to the Vols on July 2, 2010 - before his senior season, with plans to graduate early and be a spring enrollee.
He certainly doesn't look like a young man who was pining away for some attention from the Gamecocks. He was a Vol all along. Trolling the net, I can't see where Worley showed any interest in USC - or Clemson for that matter. To my mind, he took the same route that a lot of talented, smart and mature three-stars take ... they look to pledge early to a top program, knowing that their first choices might not have room for them if they wait to the NSD.
It also looks like Justin Worley was always looking to go out of state and the Vols were always the front-runners. If he feels "snubbed" (which is being imputed to him - I haven't seen a quote from him yet to that effect), then its not like he seriously wanted to come to Columbia. It takes two to tango as they say. I have to imagine that if Worley had shown us interest, he would have been offered. He didn't. So he wasn't.
Maybe Mangus felt he was too much a system QB. Maybe the whole "system QB' knock is sour grapes by in-state schools (CU, USC) that never have a chance for his services to begin with. Maybe Carolina could have been more aggressive in recruiting him. Maybe we never had a shot because he loved Rocky Top. Maybe he's going to be a great QB. Maybe he won't. Maybe this is further indication that Spurrier has trouble recruiting top talent. Maybe Worley is on par with Tanner McEvoy. Maybe Worley is UT's star of the future. Maybe he's going to be Tyler Bray's back up for the next three years. In the inexact science of CFB recruiting, who can know? Plus there are only so many hours in the day to recruit. If a young man has made up his mind, a coaching staff is going to move on; that really looks like the explanation that best fits the facts here.
But all that being said, Justin Worley seems to be at the school he loved the most - where he wanted to be all along. I'm happy for him and wish him well - I love seeing Palmetto State players shine. He seems like a great young man and he has a bright future at the University of Tennessee.
I am also happy to know he wasn't snubbed by the University of South Carolina.