Towson State senior quarterback Worthington pleased by return to linebacker

November 05, 1991|By John W. Stewart

Gary Worthington is not the type of football player who likes to sit down. He wants to be involved in as many plays as possible.

That's why the Towson State senior, a three-year star on defense, but tabbed as the starting quarterback last spring, asked coach Phil Albert if he could go back to playing defense.

"Originally, our game plan for this season was to control the ball with a running game, but we've fallen behind early in so many games, and it just isn't a catch-up offense," Worthington said yesterday.

Although a quarterback in high school, the West Berlin, N.J., resident will tell you he's a better runner than passer. For six games at quarterback, he netted 168 rushing yards, with his longest run for 38 yards. As a passer, he was 23-for-53 for 308 yards and three touchdowns, with five interceptions.

"I thought about making the change during the Northeastern game" three games ago, Worthington continued. "We fell behind and [freshman] Danny Crowley, a better passer, replaced me.

"The following Monday morning, I went to Coach Albert and talked about my football future, my last few college games. I'd had a great time and done as much as possible at quarterback, but I wanted to finish my career -- to have some success -- as a linebacker.

"It's easy to see there's a lot of pressure on the quarterback. He has to do so many things. I want to be the leader, but I'm much more comfortable doing it on defense.

"I felt I could go back, be aggressive and put some spark into the defense, get some of our seniors back in a mood to play well, and return to that relentless attitude we used to have.

"At the same time, I thought Danny could handle the responsibility of being a starting quarterback. With him in there [two weeks ago at Liberty], the offense went back to its old passing game, the receivers were ecstatic, and even though we lost, it was a positive experience."

It was more of the same Saturday, as the 0-8 Tigers lost in the last two minutes (30-26 to Hofstra), and Crowley continued to show improvement. For his two games the 6-foot-1, 170-pound DeMatha graduate is 56 of 108 for 724 yards and six touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, Worthington, an enthusiastic leader, has 18 tackles and four sacks for the past two games, although he was forced to share time with another senior, James Dutton, on Saturday, as the Tigers used six defensive backs against Hofstra's run-and-shoot offense.

This week, both are expected to start against Howard University NTC (3-6, but on a six-game losing streak), in Washington.

"Defensively, we're still doing a lot of the same things, so I just needed to go over them, get a refresher course. I was very emotional the whole week. I love to hit, and I couldn't wait for Saturday [his linebacker start at Liberty]. In the game, I wanted to do things, hit people, be in on every tackle."

One bonus in the change is having the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Worthington able to play several positions, as his past experience includes playing three linebacker positions and two in the secondary.

"It gives us more depth, lets the coaches rotate some people, keeps fresh legs on the field. Me, I want to stay out there as long as possible."

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