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5 reasons to be excited the Cincinnati Bengals signed Ohio State’s Chris Worley

The Buckeye linebacker has been the underdog before, and knows how to use that as motivation.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Another Ohio State Buckeye won’t be leaving the state to play professional football. Joining fellow Buckeye defensive teammates Billy Price and Sam Hubbard, Chris Worley signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent.

So, why should you be excited the Bengals drafted Worley? We’ve got you covered:

1. Big performances in big games

At a place like Ohio State, you are defined by what you do in the games that matter; and when the going got tough, Worley stood out.

The Cleveland native started in 24 games for the Buckeyes, with 23 of those coming in the last two seasons—and at least eight of those games were big matchups. In the two meetings with Oklahoma, Worley notched a total of 21 tackles (10 in 2016, and 11 in 2017). Against Michigan in 2016— a game which was arguably the most important regular season game in the Urban Meyer era— he recorded 11 tackles, which was then a career-high until the 2017 meeting with OU.

Even in the Buckeyes’ losing effort to Clemson in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, Worley was one of the few bright spots. He picked up 10 tackles, with eight of them coming unassisted.

A foot injury caused him to miss three games last season, but he still put together an impressive highlight reel.

Worley isn’t afraid of the limelight; he embraced it.

2. High praise from his coaches

According to his draft bio by OSU athletics, Greg Schiano said that Worley was a “really smart football player; he’s a guy who understands the game at a very high level”.

That quote mixes well with Worley’s results on the field. He ended his senior campaign with 56 tackles—good enough for fifth on the team. Additionally, he was invited to be part of the East-West Shrine game at the end of the season.

In his final two seasons, he picked up honorable mention for all-conference, with this past season’s recognition coming from both the coaches and the media.

3. Oh Captain, My Captain

Leadership is big data-point in not only maturity, but how one conducts himself when faced with difficult tasks. Worley was selected as one of the team captains for the Buckeyes in 2017, joining a list of other field generals that included J.T. Barrett and Billy Price.

Is it fair to point out that OSU had nine captains last season, meaning that the leadership was spread across many people? Absolutely. However, the team picks as many people that fit the bill of a team captain. If you only have two captains that show qualities of being a captain, you have two captains; if there are nine, you have nine.

The team believed in Worley’s ability to lead—and he didn’t let them down.

4. A well-rounded individual

Off the field, Worley amassed some eclectic experiences as a Buckeye. For five seasons, he was a Rolls Royce representative for the OSU football program. Additionally, he was an intern for WBNS-TV (the CBS affiliate in Columbus) in their sports department. At the 2017 Memorial Tournament, he was one of the station’s cameramen.

5. He comes from a place that sends people to the NFL

Glenville H.S. has had some notable Buckeyes make the leap into the professional ranks over the years. Donte Whitner and Ted Ginn Jr. both made it to Super Bowl games, while Marshon Lattimore and Cardale Jones are some of the recent members of the Glenville alumni to be drafted into the NFL.

Lattimore, who was a first-round draft pick by the New Orleans Saints, was the Defensive Rookie of the Year last season; Jones was drafted by the Buffalo Bills before being sent to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Any concerns about Worley?

From a stats perspective, he picked up fewer tackles in his senior season, compared to his junior season. As a junior, Worley started in 13 games and secured 70 tackles to help get the Buckeyes into the College Football Playoff; as a senior, he started in 10 games and had 56 tackles to his credit. The reason why he started less games in his final go-round for OSU was due to a foot injury sustained in the Army game on Sept. 16.

His draft profile on NFL.com describes some of his weaknesses as “pursuit acceleration is lacking” and that he “lacks fluidity in open field and is sluggish with change of direction.” Could the foot injury have played a role in this review? Possibly—especially if he was reviewed in the weeks coming back from the injury.

But with his leadership ability, as well as his ability to overcome adversity, Worley may very well be the sleeper pick in this year’s draft.

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