More to PSU recruit than football

For all of Daquan Worley’s accomplishments and potential as a football player, there’s another side to the Coatesville Area High School junior star, a side that includes devoting some of his free time to working with autistic youngsters.

“I guess I’ve got a good heart,” Worley said.

Wanting to help however he can and not shying away from tough situations is something that should aid Worley over the next few years as a player for Bill O’Brien at Penn State. Worley, a complex young man who combines brashness with humility, verbally committed to the Nittany Lions on May 3.

“I just want my coach me to put me in a place to win games,” Worley said. “I don’t really care where I play in college. If Coach O’Brien needs me at slot, if Coach O’Brien needs me at running back, if he needs me at safety, if he needs me at corner, I’m happy to play that.”

Penn State is happy to have him, too. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder with 4.5 speed who helped lead Coatesville to the PIAA Class AAAA championship game by rushing for nearly 1,800 yards is coming to University Park as a cornerback, although he said the Lion coaches, who’ll be dealing with a harsh NCAA-imposed scholarship limit, have told him he could see action in not only the return game but on offense, too.

Worley made 45 tackles and three interceptions in the 2012 season.

“Most schools recruited him for defense, I think strictly because of his size,” said Coatesville coach Matt Ortega, a St. Francis University product who also coached former Nittany Lion Knowledge Timmons. “I kind of felt as a sophomore, his future was going to be at DB. He’s fast. He can jump. He has cover skills. From Day 1 as a sophomore, we had some very good wideouts, a couple who could play at the next level, and he could cover those guys.”

Worley showed off his capabilities to state football fans when he ran for an 89-yard touchdown as part of his 160-yard night in the PIAA final. Ortega remembers another game that stood out just as much.

“We were playing Downingtown East. We were down 28-7 in the first quarter, and then we slowly got back in the game and scored before halftime to make it 28-21,” Ortega said. “I remember at halftime, Daquan, being such a team guy and such a positive kid with positive energy, very vocal, he looked at me and said, ‘All we need to do is get this turnover to start the second half and score and tie the game.

“What do you know? The first play of the third quarter, they throw a pass his way, guy catches it, he hits him, the ball comes out, he recovers it, we go in, we tie it up.”

Worley’s ability to call his shot, so to speak, seems to come right out of the page of some of his favorite players growing up. He counts Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson in a group that also includes Ernie Davis.

But, while Worley enjoys the brashness of some of his idols, he said it’s not for him.

“In the game, I don’t say anything,” Worley said. “I just can’t talk trash. I was brought up not to do it. There ain’t no need for it. Play football. I’m a football player.”

Worley didn’t like playing football at first – “I didn’t like getting hit,” he said. His father, a good player in his own in his teens according to Worley, got him involved in youth football when he was 5 at the urging of an uncle and cousin.

Family, though, has played a bigger role to Worley in his development as a person.

“I won’t be denied. I can’t lose. I won’t quit,” Worley said. “I’ve seen my family go through a lot. I can’t quit, because they haven’t quit on me. Growing up, people have been leading me the right way.”

That’s also motivated Worley to want to give back to those that need it. He said he wants to get into early child development.

“I want to work with autistic kids,” Worley said. “I just want to help people out who don’t have anything or are down. Sometimes, they lack social skills, and that’s one thing I have. I can help them. On certain Fridays, in my school, I work with autistic kids now.”

Family played a role in getting Worley to pick Penn State over Rutgers, Georgia Tech and Pitt – “I wanted to stay close to home. I love my grandma too much,” Worley said. Worley’s commitment to the Lions came a few days later than it was expected because he wanted to be absolutely sure, but he said there were other factors working in the Lions’ favor.

“Bill O’Brien is a great coach. The things that they have going on right now are really good,” said Worley, adding that he was impressed with the strength and conditioning program. “I can maximize my talent there.”