’s first college football game may have been against William & Mary here in Morgantown, but his real introduction to the sport came out in Waco, Texas against the Baylor Bears.
Actually, Worley's introduction was more like a hazing.
Worley and the rest of the West Virginia’s young DBs spent the entire night chasing Baylor running backs and wide receivers around Floyd Casey Stadium. It was a helpless feeling watching them try and match Baylor’s great speed and offensive proficiency.
The numbers the Mountaineer defense gave up that night are both staggering and depressing: 73 points, 38 first downs, 468 yards rushing, 396 yards passing, 864 total yards, 9.1 yards per play, and on and on …
“It’s crazy speed and the tempo of their offense it just accelerated everything,” Worley recalled. “They were moving so fast. When I played in high school I was never playing at top speed and it felt like every snap in the Baylor game I was moving at top speed.”
Worley’s college football career has also moved at warp speed from the moment he stepped on campus, No. 1, because of his size (6-feet-1, 198 pounds), maturity, and outstanding natural ability, and, No. 2, because the Mountaineers were in dire need of defensive backs.
Because Worley was bigger than the rest of the DBs in his freshman class (think Mike Logan size) he was physically ready to play the game. Mentally … well, that has taken a little bit longer, as it does with all freshmen.
Worley can still recall his first game against William & Mary just running around out there trying to get his bearings straight.
“It’s a crazy experience, from the players around you to all the fans there is just so much adrenaline rushing through you,” he said. “You have to impress so many people and your anxious not to mess up. You’ve just got to clear your mind and make plays.”
As Worley got more comfortable out on the field he did begin to make plays - seven tackles against Texas Tech, eight tackles against TCU, three tackles and a pass breakup against Texas, five tackles and a tackle for loss against Kanas and seven stops against Iowa State.
He finished the season ranked eighth on the team in tackles with 45 while also producing three tackles for losses, five pass breakups and an interception.
Worley got his first career start against Texas Tech and he also started the Texas and Kansas games at boundary corner. Now, he is the odds-on favorite to earn the starting job at right corner when the Mountaineers take on Alabama in the Chic-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on August 30.
With new defensive coordinator Tony Gibson’s elimination of the boundary and field corners, all Worley has to worry about now is lining up on one side of the field, which, to him, is a huge relief.
“I’m glad we’re just playing one side at this point,” he said. “In the Big 12 things are moving so fast and once we are moving across the field they are snapping the ball and we might be caught out of position. While we are on just one side of the field it’s easier for us and our conditioning is better.”
The experience Worley received as a true freshman getting thrown into the fire should pay big dividends for him down the road as his career progresses. Football oftentimes becomes too complicated, particularly on defense, and Big 12 offenses are geared toward creating confusion and capitalizing on it.
It’s just like the old joke Al McGuire used to tell about free throw shooting in basketball: he would rather have a C-student at the foul line shooting a big free throw than an A-student because the A-student is smart enough to understand all of the ramifications of a miss. The point being, the brain can get in the way of performance.
It also frequently happens in football. Worley explains.
“Where you have to get all of your reads so quickly and with someone running at you, you have to make your read and then make your movement,” he said. “Sometimes you can overthink it and sometimes you just have to play.”
When Worley made a visit to WVU the summer before his senior season at William Penn Charter High in Philadelphia, he wasn’t sure what to think. Most of the Mountaineer coaches had no idea who he was when he showed up at the stadium unannounced.
“All of the coaches were looking around – they didn’t even really know who I was,” said Worley. “I was just checking in to let them know I was here. As I was walking out to the car Coach (Dana) Holgorsen came out and started yelling at the coaches, ‘You don’t know who that is? That’s Daryl Worley
!’ And they all came running out in the parking lot. It made me feel so comfortable and my parents loved it.”
Worley was ready to commit on the spot but he had one major request that needed to be granted – he had to wear No. 7. If he couldn’t then it was a deal breaker because that was the number his cousin Fabian Johnson also wore in high school. Fabian was murdered during Daryl’s sophomore year of high school in 2010, so wearing it had great sentimental meaning to him.
“The number that I wear was basically one of my requirements for whatever school I went to,” Worley said.
No problem, said Jake Spavital, the West Virginia assistant coach recruiting him at the time. And when Spavital left for Texas A&M after the 2012 season, corners coach Brian Mitchell picked up Worley’s recruitment and got him through signing day.
“We had a connection from all the times he visited my school,” said Worley of Mitchell, who also happens to be his position coach. “We had a talk back in the spring when I was a senior and he saw me run a couple of track meets, so he knew my body type.”
Now with that year of experience under his belt, Worley is better equipped to get after all those guys from Baylor next October. And when he finally gets his hands on them let’s hope he has a long memory.