Daryl Worley experienced trial by fire in his freshman season in 2013. Just months after he was removed from suiting up for William Penn Charter School Friday nights, the cornerback was thrust into a prominent role in West Virginia’s secondary and forced to learn on the job in the crucible that is the Big 12.
In his 11 games and five starts in the 2013 season, Worley got the experience of dealing with some of the nation’s best receiving talent week after week.
There were ups and downs in his first season, but head coach Dana Holgorsen said Worley has taken the lessons he learned in 2013 to heart and made his presence felt going up against some of the Mountaineers’ top offensive talent throughout their spring practices.
“Daryl Worley has had a phenomenal spring.
Mario (Alford’s) confidence is a little down right now because he’s had to go against him. The kid makes play after play,” he said.
Senior wide receiver Mario Alford quickly established himself as one of West Virginia’s most explosive offensive weapons, catching 27 passes and averaging more than 20 yards per reception in his first season with the team.
When the Mountaineers take the field for practice, Worley is often matched up against Alford.
The two have been able to challenge each other in the offseason, and Alford said he believes there are big things waiting for Worley in the near future.
“He’s making me better, and I’m making him better. Going up against great corners like Worley is only going to make me better,” he said.
“I see a bright, very good future for him. He’s long, and he’s got great coverage speed, so he’s going to be pretty good.”
That kind of competition in practice can go a long way in preparing a young player for what they will see in live game situations.
Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said Worley has taken full advantage of his opportunity and is making the whole secondary better as a result.
“Daryl Worley is as good as anyone I’ve ever had at this age. Coach Mitchell has done a great job of coaching him and getting his technique right,” he said.
Gibson said, although he is only a sophomore, Worley’s experience has helped him to become one of the most respected players on the defensive side of the ball.
“He’s done a tremendous job. He’s a team leader. Being a sophomore, kids follow his lead. It helps them make plays,” he said.
Since Gibson’s first
encounter Worley when he was being recruited, he said he knew the young cornerback had a special quality that would make him a dynamic player on the college level.
“He has it. He’s very focused and comes from a great family and high school program. He’s got everything that you want in a player,” he said.
In 2013, senior safety Darwin Cook was the unquestioned veteran leader of the West Virginia defense.
With Cook gone, West Virginia’s secondary is largely void of veteran leadership, save for junior Karl Joseph, who started 25 straight games to start his career.
For the team to be able to compete in the Big 12 in 2014, it needs new faces to step up into bigger roles. Worley will face plenty of challenges in the coming season, but he has the talent to lead a defensive turnaround in West Virginia’s secondary in 2014.