Justin Worley's star should be on the rise after winning Gatorade National Player of the Year

Tennessee commitment Justin Worley might only have three stars by his name on most recruiting services, but he now has one unique award on his resume that separates him from the rest of the nation’s top high school players.

Worley, a quarterback from Rock Hill, S.C., was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year on Thursday, putting him in the elite company of players who typically garnered much more attention as five-star recruits.

Longtime Northwestern High coach Jimmy Wallace said he and members of his coaching staff knew for a while that Worley would become South Carolina’s first player to win the prestigious award, but opted to break the news to him after the season, when he had fewer distractions.

Days after Worley finished his career in style, leading Northwestern to the Class AAAA-Division II state championship on Dec. 3., to wrap up a perfect 15-0 season, Wallace gathered the team Thursday for an impromptu meeting.

Waiting in the room was former University of Florida quarterback Chris Leak, a nearby Charlotte, N.C., native, who broke the news to Worley.

“Justin was completely, absolutely elated,” Wallace said.

On his way to shattering most South Carolina career passing records, Worley threw for 5,315 yards and a state-record 64 touchdowns in his third and final season as Northwestern’s starting quarterback. For his career, Worley threw for 13,385 yards on 1,129 completions and 157 touchdowns.

“Broke every record in the world,” Wallace said.

Worley, who committed to the Vols in July, is a three-star and considered the 30th-best pro style quarterback in the Class of 2011, according to Rivals.com. Since Rivals was founded, Worley is the first three-star player to earn Gatorade National Player of the Year honors.

The 6-foot-4, 195 pound Worley plans to enroll early and participate in spring practice. It doesn’t appear he will be able to squeeze an official visit to UT into his schedule, as he’ll be up for the South Carolina Mr. Football award in Myrtle Beach this weekend, will play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas in Spartanburg, S.C., on Dec. 18, and will then take a Christmas vacation with his family, Wallace said.

Worley graduated with a 4.07 grade point average.

“Honestly, in 39 years of (coaching), they could have not picked a finer young man,” Wallace said. “He’s incredible.”

Criteria to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year include athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character, according to its official website. It was founded in 1985, as former NFL quarterback Jeff George was the first National Player of the Year in football.

Past Gatorade National Player of the Year winners include former UT star Peyton Manning, Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley and UCLA running back Malcolm Jones.

Safety Brian Randolph of Marietta, Ga., who committed to UT in June, was named Georgia’s Gatorade Player of the Year last week.

Andrew Gribble covers Tennessee football and recruiting. He may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble/

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 126

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say only gonna make Tyler and Justin better if they stay within the system.
Bones never lie.

VOLFORLIFE writes:

But, but, but...he's only a THREE star!

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Sounds good to me!!

We are set at QB for the next 4 years.

TommyJack writes:

in response to VOLFORLIFE:

But, but, but...he's only a THREE star!

GO VOLS!!!
JUGHEAD

Alas, shows the stupidity of the stars.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say only gonna make Tyler and Justin better if they stay within the system.
Bones never lie.

When will we find out he's a red shirt

TrueVolFan writes:

Great news for Justin! Way to go. And for all the 3 star Debbie's out there with your panties all in wad about his rating.... this is why coaches recruit and fans post on message boards. They'll continue to do their jobs and some will continue to act like they know better. I trust Coach Dooley more than the intern at Rivals or Scout.com.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog:

Sounds good to me!!

We are set at QB for the next 4 years.

would that not be 3+2 - 5

BillyVol writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

When will we find out he's a red shirt

Why would you red shirt Worley when Matt Simms is your back up?

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Alas, shows the stupidity of the stars.

Seems to be the standard for all schools selection. Dont see many no stars selected

UTAlumnus9799 (Inactive) writes:

How many stars was Al Wilson? Wasn't he 3 too? Just sayin'.

murrayvol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Alas, shows the stupidity of the stars.

and some stars are brighter than others........4.07 gpa.

eb502us#225637 writes:

Sounds like we need to redshirt him to put some seperation between him and Bray.

If one were to be optomistic looking forward, Worley could be a starter as a redshirt sophomore when Bray leaves after his Jr. year.

Again, just guessing what could occur if Bray continues to impress.

keepitreal4vols writes:

Wonder why the Rivals and Scout staffers can't justify Worley as a 5 star QB?

BigBadVol writes:

in response to andforhisnexttune:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If this year is an indication of how good Tyler is going to be then he won't be around his senior year. He will be a pro.

murrayvol writes:

in response to UTAlumnus9799:

How many stars was Al Wilson? Wasn't he 3 too? Just sayin'.

I know he made people see lots of stars.

Rockytop38 writes:

Northwestern H S won the 4A Football Division 11 championship in SC. They have two State Championships in SC I believe and went 15-0 behind Worley. Would love to have the WR Joseph on that team who looked like his primary target.

absgovols writes:

The over/under for rivals, espn, and scout making him at least a 4* is 12 days...

flatrock writes:

Stick the star-ratings system where the sun doesn't shine...Worley and Randolph are big-time-
same as Blackman RB I'Tavius (the I-Train)Mathers,
who won Tennessee Player-of-Year this fall as a
junior (note: he is a Barry Sanders' clone!).

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to BillyVol:

Why would you red shirt Worley when Matt Simms is your back up?

Give him two years instead of one

jerseydevilvol writes:

IT is simply impossible for 3 stars to get player of the year awards right? It has to be, just absurd. haha
What it is though, is impressive that CDD got these two to commitment way before these awards were thought of, way before these two were being considered. Shows that he has a eye for talent, in which I will admit I was questioning. Not anymore though. Can someone tell who the main recruiters were for these two kids? Im assuming that one or several of the assistant coaches were the guys who made first contact as is the case with most prospects. Just wondering

murrayvol writes:

The O&W game will be a lot more interstin' with Bray and Worley chuckin' the rock.

We'll also have a better take on whether he's a "system qb" or not.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to BigBadVol:

If this year is an indication of how good Tyler is going to be then he won't be around his senior year. He will be a pro.

This young man will stay the four. He's having to much fun.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

Wonder why the Rivals and Scout staffers can't justify Worley as a 5 star QB?

Good question..Is the 4a level in his state at the top of competition or the lower end?

allntl1#565211 writes:

So three stars does not mean a thing but an award does.

TennVol01 writes:

in response to andforhisnexttune:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You wrote what I was thinking. If Bray has a great Music City Bowl outing, he will have sewn up the starting position for a long while. The best this young man can hope for is to be red shirted, then he could start for two years...if he makes it in big time college. I am betting that Steve Spurrier is on the phone to him right now.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to TennVol01:

You wrote what I was thinking. If Bray has a great Music City Bowl outing, he will have sewn up the starting position for a long while. The best this young man can hope for is to be red shirted, then he could start for two years...if he makes it in big time college. I am betting that Steve Spurrier is on the phone to him right now.

Exactly, he would be crazy to come just for one year. Red shirt is a must for him

41_14gbo writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

When will we find out he's a red shirt

I hope we never red-shirt and other skill position player, (unless they are stacked-up like cord wood, that would be 3 deep). Take a gander at Wisconsin, 3 RB all with 900 yards, all healthy. Remember when UT had two or three RB carrying the rock, at the end of the game we were running down hill. The last guy that stayed four years that "could" leave was Manning.

springtx_vol writes:

I thought Bray should have been red-shirted this year, but Worley commitment eases the impact of that decision. As long as Bray stays healthy, I would expect him to be the starter next year with Simms (or Nash) as the backup. Then, Worley gets one or two years in a support role (hopefully playing meaningful series) until Bray is gone. Then we have Worley for one, two or three years as the starting QB waiting for the next stud.

IMO, you need to sign a QB every year, but you only need a stud every other year. Keeps everyone happy.

Congrats to Mr. Worley. GBO

41_14gbo writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Exactly, he would be crazy to come just for one year. Red shirt is a must for him

Skilled players THIS good, thrive, thirst, for the competition. They don't shy away. He is coming to play, he might eventually sit for year, but in his mind he is coming to PLAY, and THAT determination is what we want. BTW-Chaney is a bigger draw than we (or Kiffin) ever thought.

abnermc writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Good question..Is the 4a level in his state at the top of competition or the lower end?

Top level. Big school

OldNumber7 writes:

Better make sure the Old Ball Coach doesn't convince him better to play now at SC. Hopefully, he realizes with a redshirt he can accelerate his UT degree and have minimal work to do his playing years.

mtowntim writes:

He could show up and beat Bray out. The guy likes competition and he's a slinger!

RemembertheAlamo writes:

in response to andforhisnexttune:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bray only has two more years....Justin will redshirt one of those.....Bray will leave after his Junior year. And if he don't it will be because Justin has beat him out.

baldingalum writes:

We know his family. They are great people. He is also playing major high school football. His school is a powerhouse that competes against the likes of Duncan. Last year they had a kid named Lattimore.

He is NOT a 3 star - never has been.

IndyVolFan writes:

in response to 41_14gbo:

Skilled players THIS good, thrive, thirst, for the competition. They don't shy away. He is coming to play, he might eventually sit for year, but in his mind he is coming to PLAY, and THAT determination is what we want. BTW-Chaney is a bigger draw than we (or Kiffin) ever thought.

The folks up at Purdue really wish they had Chaney back. He was he catalyst for Brees and their other Qbs being so good.

Also, Northwestern is in the top class in SC. It's one of the toughest divisions in high school football. They have Rock Hill, Gaffney, NW, Spartanburg, and Dorman among others. I haven't kept up with Tn HS football much since I've moved away, but the equivalent would be Dobbyns Bennett, Rhea Cty, Maryville, Jeff Cty, Alcoa, Brentwood, and Oak Ridge being in the same conference. All previous state champs.

FWBVol writes:

Someone also forgot to tell the Gatorade people that Worley not only just a 3-star guy, he is only the 30th ranked pro-style QB by Rivals.

I'll give Kiffin credit for getting on Bray early and bringing him to UT. Now it's time to give CDD credit for keeping Bray on board and then going after Worley early in the process and landing him.

I'd be surprised if anybody didn't keep trying to get Worley because UT looks set for the next two or three years with Bray, but as long as CDD is honest about having an open competition at every position then Worley, Simms and Nash will know that they do have a legitimate chance of starting.

Besides, as we all know from past experiences, the No. 2 QB is only snap away from being the starter.

givehim6 writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

When will we find out he's a red shirt

Wish Justin would take a red shirt year, I'm afraid UT will have to much success in 2011 and 2012 and in 2013 eather Worley or Bray might go somewhere else.

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

Past winners on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gatorade...

some great ones - some busts.

baldingalum writes:

He's coming. An alum who is playing tonight has been most helpful.

Rivals/Scout are always off. Do you really think Bryce Brown or the running back at Auburn were the best in the country? Not even close.

I will put forth another one. QB Marquise Williams is NOT in their top 100 players in the country. He is absolutely incredible.

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

Good reading - some irony - Chris Leak called him to tell him he was winning the award.

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/pr...

Down_The_Field writes:

why can't we put him on the field at a position called....ummm.....wide out and throw him the ball for 3 years while he's back up QB?

Just a thought.

mattnchatt writes:

I've read interviews with Worley stating he didn't expect to walk in and become the starter right away but liked the idea of competition. He sounds like he knows Bray is the man right now and doesn't mind earning his spot on the depth chart.

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

Correction - Chris Leak gave the award to him in person.

these_orange_colored_glasses writes:

what other sec team has two talented young qb's... we might see a paradigm shift in the sec....GBO

VolGrad writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

Wonder why the Rivals and Scout staffers can't justify Worley as a 5 star QB?

Maybe because they think his stats are just the result of the "system" he is in. But the fact is simply that he has executed the system he was given extremely well. To project anything else from that is really not fair to this kid.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

would that not be 3+2 - 5

True..I should have put for at least 4 years.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to givehim6:

Wish Justin would take a red shirt year, I'm afraid UT will have to much success in 2011 and 2012 and in 2013 eather Worley or Bray might go somewhere else.

Justin will be on campus in 3 weeks for early enrollment. He has already said in a video interview last week, competion and red shirting is no problem. He said he will do whatever is best for the TEAM! My Kinda Guy! Tyler will be the starting QB unless beaten out.

IMO, Nash Nance better learn the Slot Back or DB positions real quick, LOL! Matt has a new job as holder and backup QB, he only has 1 year left anyway.

Justin a 3 star? WHO CARES!

Great Job Justin on the Gatorade National Player of the year!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

BillyVol writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Give him two years instead of one

If Bray goes down next year you would have to depend on Simms. If Worley proves to be what he is, he could beat out Bray quickly. I would rather have Bray and Worley as the two qb next year versus Bray and Simms.
Just my opinion.

johnb65802#220502 writes:

I LIVE IN
SC. I have seldom, if ever seen a qauaterback in highschool who has the skills that Justin worley has. I think that his 4+ grade point average has a part in his qb play.

CLEMSONVOL716WASBANNED writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Good question..Is the 4a level in his state at the top of competition or the lower end?

4A is top classification in South Carolina. Worley is good. So is DL Clowney from SouthPointe HS, but he seems to be leaning toward Columbia as his next stop.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features