Michigan St DT Worthy entering NFL draft
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy has decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
The 310-pound junior, a first team Associated Press All-American this season, announced his decision Thursday. He said it was the right time to leave following the 33-30 triple-overtime win over Georgia in the Outback Bowl.
"As far as spiritually, my decision kind of came after we blocked that field goal against Georgia," Worthy said. "I knew in my heart that this was the right way to go out, on top, as a winner."
Worthy said he has not hired an agent yet and will continue to evaluate his options.
Worthy started all 14 games this season and recorded 30 tackles, 10.5 for loss, as well as 3.5 sacks. Worthy also tallied five tackles, two for loss, during the bowl game victory.
"When you have an opportunity like that, it's very difficult to pass up because of the financial situation you would be in at this point in time," coach Mark Dantonio said. "We wish (Worthy) the best at Michigan State and we will miss him tremendously."
Worthy said the health of his father, Bobby Smith, also played a role in his decision. Smith suffered a stroke in the spring of 2010.
"My father is slowly but surely progressing back to where he needs to be," Worthy said. "One thing that helped lead to this decision is the simple fact that he's not getting the provided care he needed to make as fast of a recovery. He's near and dear to my heart. . (Dantonio) knows it's my obligation to do whatever is required for my family and that's what led to this decision as well."
Dantonio said he and Worthy, who is from Huber Heights, Ohio, enlisted the opinion of NFL general managers, scouts and coaches.
"What we wanted to do is make sure the dollars are there on the front end if he decides to do this," Dantonio said. "That's the indication we received."
Dantonio was also asked about reports that MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi is a candidate for the same position at Texas A&M.
"We're not here to talk about that at all," Dantonio said. "We're here to talk about Jerel Worthy."
A three-year starter, Worthy helped the Spartans finish first in the Big Ten in rushing defense this season allowing 100.5 yards per game. MSU also led the conference in total defense (277.4 ypg) and sacks (45).
Updated January 5, 2012