From Walk-On to the NFL? The Story of Tyler Worthley

Blue collar is the name of Tyler Worthley’s game. The 6’3’’ 330 offensive guard out of Sacramento State may not be the flashiest or well-known player on the field, after all he is an offensive lineman, but no one has ever doubted that he is the hardest working.

Coming out of Dublin, California, Worthley didn’t receive any Division-I scholarship offers. Although Worthley had been given first team All-Diablo Football Athletic League and third team All-East Bay honors his senior year, it seemed as if only Division-III and Division-II collegiate programs were interested. If Worthley wanted to play Division-I, he had a decision to make. Either walk on at a division one program, or try to prove himself through the junior college ranks. The bay area teenager decided to stay in his home state of California and be a preferred walk-on at Sacramento State, a small Division-I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) university.

Sacramento State head coach, Marshall Sperbeck, decided to redshirt Worthley for his freshman year in 2009. After sitting out from gameplay for a his freshman season, Worthley made it his mission to get on the field. After 2009, Worthley started every single game for Sacramento State for four years. Worthley ended his career with a perfect 45 consecutive starts.

“The streak means a lot,” said Worthley. “It’s something I take pride in. It’s something my family takes pride in. I think the biggest thing is that shows consistency. I have never been someone to sit out if I am a little banged up or something. It just means consistency, being a great teammate, and following through.”

In Worthley’s 2012 junior redshirt year, his stellar performance on the field began to be recognized by the Big Sky. He was awarded second team All-Big Sky honors that year, followed by  being named to the 2013 Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team. The challenge presented to any player being put on an all-conference team is living up to the hype. Worthley would not disappoint. His senior, he was placed on the 2013 Big Sky All-Conference first team.

“Being named All-Big Sky first team was pretty big,” said Worthley. “I was voted All-Big Sky during preseason and it was a goal of mine to live up to. I was striving to be an All-American, but it didn’t exactly work out. But, it was a big deal to me. It was a great accomplishment to show all the work I have put in through the years.”

Although Worthley’s collegiate career is now over, he is working hard to prove that he can play at the next level. Worthley comes from a small Division-I program, so the odds are definitely stacked against him. However, the few times that Sacramento State played Division-I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams, Worthley clearly stood his own.

“A lot of those guys have great skill, but I would say that none of them were overpowering,” said Worthley. “Going against PAC-12 schools the first three years was tough, but it got easier. Last year, we played against Arizona State and I think I matched up well against the defensive line.”

Coming from a small school also presents Worthley with lack of exposure. Big-Sky games are typically televised only in local areas. Nevertheless, Worthley is meeting the challenge head on, just like he always has.

“It gives you a feeling that you have something to prove,” said Worthley. “A lot of guys that play at bigger schools have bigger names and connections and that’s where a lot of the scouts take their prospects from. For me, I know I have a lot to prove and basically I just believe in myself. I don’t think I am any different from those guys that play at the next level. I think that I am the same caliber athlete it’s just a matter of what path I took.”

Although Worthley’s incredible passion for the game and 6’3’’ 330 frame have granted him with a great deal of success in college, Worthley knows there is work to do before draft day.

“I feel like I am a big, strong, athletic guy,” said Worthley. “My speed could be improved a little bit. My change of direction could be better; just little things that make the difference.”

This month will play a large part in Worthley’s NFL future. He has an upcoming pro day and regional combine. These two opportunities could make or break Worthley’s NFL dreams. In the midst yet another challenge, Worthley plans on doing what he has done throughout his career-work hard.

“I’m putting my head down and working and training every day,” said Worthley. “I figure if I came from a walk-on and did all this, I know I can reach the NFL.”




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Matt Moore contributes writings about the NFL Draft and Michigan Football for ProFootballCentral. Follow Matt on Twitter @Matt23Moore

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