Today is August 25, 2019, which means we are just six short days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. As we enter the final week of our 99-day countdown, we take a look back at No. 6, Jason Worilds.
Worilds arrived in Blacksburg in 2006 as a four-star defensive end from Carteret High School in Carteret, New Jersey. The 6’3”, 248-pounder committed to Virginia Tech as Jason Adjepong, but once he arrived in Blacksburg legally changed his last name to Worilds to honor his mother.
Worilds had a standout high-school career before committing to Virginia Tech. He was a two-sport star in high school, starring in track as well as football. He also played on both sides of the ball, playing fullback and both defensive end and linebacker. Worilds was also a two-time all-state performer.
In his freshman season of 2006, defensive coordinator Bud Foster saw big potential in Worilds. He played in the first two games of the season, making four tackles, registering two quarterback hits and blocking a punt. Unfortunately, he would suffer a shoulder injury and miss the rest of that season. He was granted a medical redshirt for 2006.
Worilds returned in 2007 and played in every game for the Hokies. While the Hokies had Chris Ellis and Orion Martin starting, Worilds was Tech’s top reserve at defensive end. He was very good, making 17 tackles, including 4.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits.
Worilds would move into a full-time role in 2008. He started in 12 of the 13 games he played in, finishing fourth on the team in tackles with 62, an impressive number for a defensive end. Worilds also led the Hokies in tackles for loss with 18.5 and sacks with eight. He also had 14 quarterback hits and forced two fumbles. He was named to the All-ACC team after that season.
Worilds started every game for the Hokies in 2009. He finished with 49 tackles, including 11 for loss and 4.5 sacks. While some would notice his sack totals were down, his 2009 season proved how there is more to rushing the passer than just stats. Worilds registerd an impressive 32 quarterback hits in 2009 and was again selected to the All-ACC team.
After two straight ultra-productive seasons, Worilds would enter the 2010 NFL Draft where he was selected in the second round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Worilds could not have gone to a better place for an outside pass-rusher and his numbers increased during every season in the NFL. Worilds was a full-time starter in 2013 where he finished with 63 tackles and eight sacks. The team and Worilds couldn’t come to contract terms after that season and Pittsburgh applied the transition tag on him. He would earn just under $10 million on the tag and he had another successful season in 2014 as he recorded 7.5 sacks and played in every game.
However, just as free agency had begun in 2015, Worilds decided to retire at the age of 27. Worilds left lots of money on the table and never wavered on his retirement decision. That’s to be commended. He walked away with his health at a young age and never came back.
Worilds had a very productive career in Blacksburg and was one of those defensive ends who could get after the quarterback but also was very productive against the run. He was a part of some strong teams with the Hokies including a couple of ACC championship teams.