UT Hangs Tough for Top DE

Doug Worthington has changed his list of favorites several times over the last four months, but Tennessee remains a fixed contender for the nation's No. 5 ranked defensive end.

The 6-foot-7, 257-pound stalwart from St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, N.Y., includes the Vols in his latest list of preferred programs and indications are he'll take one of his official visits to Knoxville.

"I would say right now it is Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Maryland, and Pittsburgh," he told The Insiders Andrew Bone. "I want to see how many people each team signs and which players have been redshirted the year before. Playing time will be a big factor. I want to go somewhere the coaches will be there throughout my college career. I want to win a national championship. I don't want to just walk in somewhere and win it. I want to work for it, and have a good chance, too."

Tennessee has winning tradition working for it with Worthington as well as staff stability, but southern climate could work against the Vols as the Empire State native has expressed concerns about the heat in the southeast.

"Tradition is really important because teams like that have big goals and aren't happy with a 6-4 season," he said. "I want a team that will go to bowl games and win consistently. That's what I like about Tennessee. They are a big-time program. It's historic and the stadium is huge. They have coaches that could propel you to the next level. I also heard it's an awesome campus. I was surprised they even knew who I was."

Worthington, who also plays tight end, has no shortage of options where college football is concerned. He has received over 20 offers including such schools as Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State and LSU.

An AAU basketball forward/center Worthington averaged 17 points and 14 rebound per game last season for St. Francis and his father, Doug Sr., played college basketball at Colorado. His father has encouraged Doug Jr. to consider broadening his experiences which might help UT.

"My dad wants me to go south and experience something new," he said. "My mom likes Penn State because of the academics and I like that too."

Academics will play an important role in his decision according to Worthington, who said: "I want to go somewhere I will have a good education. Football won't always be there. I could go out and break my leg, so I want a good education and I want to graduate."

As a junior Worthington recorded 72 tackles with seven sacks and 12 QB pressures. He bench presses 320 and squats 400, but size, stamina and speed are his calling cards. Worthington runs a 4.7 time in the 40 and has excellent agility.

"I get after the QB fast and I'm real strong," he said. "I hustle well and run after the ball well. I'll hawk it down wherever it is. I could play all day. I'd like to improve my speed because that's what you need even more than strength. I also have bad eyes and I'm gonna wear contacts this season, so hopefully that will help."

The timing of Worthington's official visits could be significant since he's indicated he might make his decision on the spot if he likes what he sees and feels good about a school.

"I don't know when I will make a decision," he said. "It might be by the middle of the season. I do want to go on all my visits, but I could commit during a visit. It will be interesting. I am not worried about that right now. I am more involved and focused on being the captain of my team this year."

Tennessee's staff will work hard to assure Doug Worthington doesn't lose sight of Rocky Top.

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