The Creeper Van made its way to Toledo last Friday to check out defensive end commit Chris Wormley as his Toledo Whitmer Panthers took on A.B. Lucas Secondary School. Things I learned about A.B. Lucas: It's located in London, Ontario, Canada, their players are used to CFL rules (i.e. having one of their wideouts run full speed at the line of scrimmage before the snap), and they were terribly undersized and overmatched against a Whitmer squad with a solid amount of Division-I talent on the roster.
Things I learned about Chris Wormley? We'll get to those later, after you see highlights of Chris from the first half of play—plus a post-game interview—before the cupcake-stomping got so out of hand that Whitmer practically had to trot out their JV team in order to not pull a Bret Bielema (Final score: 41-0, with all but six of the points coming in the first half, I believe):
In case you missed it, because I realized the stat line went by rather quickly once I'd already uploaded the video to YouTube, by my count Wormley recorded three tackles, two TFLs, two QB hurries, and one sack in a little less than one half of play. He also had one tackle for loss called back on an offensive holding penalty (it's still in the video, as it was all the more impressive since Wormley was the holdee), and the officials let a fair amount of holding go, which was frankly for the best in this game.
Scouting Report: Take this all with a rather large grain of salt, as Wormley faced off against 180-pound Canadian linemen who seemed like polite young men but also not very good at football. The biggest question about Wormley, at least put forth by most of the recruiting services, is whether or not he has a good motor. For the most part, Wormley was in attack mode on every play, and he showed a really nice initial burst off the snap, which enabled him to choose between bull-rushing Terrance and Phillip and simply speed-rushing around the end.
Either way, it usually worked, though there were a couple plays where Wormley got stood up by a double-team on pass plays and didn't do a whole lot to break through—part of this can be chalked up to fatigue (it was 95 degrees at kickoff and Whitmer plays on fieldturf), part potential boredom, and part the fact that one can't expect a defensive lineman on a three-man line to break into the backfield on every play, tiny O-lineman or not.
Wormley's pass rushing ability was on display, as he made his way into the Lucas backfield seemingly whenever he wanted to. He didn't show a wide array of moves off the line, but he didn't really have to—his sack came when nobody decided to block him, and he was able to generate pressure by either engaging with the tackle and shoving him aside or simply running around the edge. He didn't show elite speed off the corner—I thought Mario Ojemudia was more impressive in this regard, although he's a much smaller DE—but his size and strength were a real asset both against the pass and the run.
Speaking of run defense, I really liked Wormley in his limited chances here. On two separate occasions, Lucas decided—for some unbeknownst reason—to run toss sweeps to Wormley's side of the field. Both times, Wormley knocked his blocker into the backfield, shed the block, and chased down the running back in the backfield—probably his two most impressive plays on the evening. When Lucas ran up the middle, at the very least Wormley held his ground, and despite facing double teams he was usually able to cave in the hole and force the play into one of his teammates. He also tracked down a running play eight yards downfield, sticking with the play and closing the gap quickly once he located the ball.
In the end, what stood out to me the most was Wormley's impressive size. Even when he took off his pads near the end of the first half, he was easily the most noticeable player on Whitmer's sideline, and it looks like he's added a decent amount of good weight since last year. At 6'5", he appears to weigh in the neighborhood of 270 pounds, and he's not carrying any unnecessary pounds. He reminds me of a younger Ryan Van Bergen, and like RVB he should be able to play either strongside DE or three-tech DT at the next level, and I believe he can come in right away and compete for playing time (especially with the lack of depth at both those positions).
Listen to me stammer on live radio: Mason Lowry of WRSC Radio, which broadcasts every Whitmer game live (as well as Sylvania Southview, home of Allen Gant), was kind enough to have me on air at halftime and asked a few questions about Wormley, Whitmer grad Kevin Koger, and also Michigan. Here's the audio:
Did I really say I was torn between 9-3 and 8-4 on air? I guess so, and now I guess I'm sticking with it. Thanks to Mason for having me on, especially since he also took the time before the game to tell me everything I needed to know about Whitmer (much of which I promptly forgot, hence identifying all non-Wormley players by their uniform number).
Photos: Thanks once again to Eric for accompanying me and taking a great set of photos:
Next Week: The van heads back to Toledo to watch Allen Gant's Sylvania Southview squad hit the road against Toledo Start.
Previously: Week 1 — Farmington Hills Harrison (Devin Funchess, Mario Ojemudia) vs. Cass Tech (Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson)
If you have any suggestions to help improve future Creeper Van Originals, please leave them in the comments or email me.