ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Attention University of Tennessee fans and coaches: Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern QB Justin Worley wants to be your man.
The once-proud Volunteers program has had a rough bump lately. The Lane Kiffin-era seemed to end before it began and in his wake, he left NCAA investigators snooping around. New coach Derek Dooley shows promise, but it's an uphill climb in Knoxville right now. Many of the faithful in the "Big Orange Nation" are looking for someone to turn to. Who's going to be the man that can lead Rocky Top back from the abyss?
Justin Worley wants to be your man.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound quarterback wasn't the most recognized guest in Saturday's game against South Pointe, but after six touchdown passes, including five in the third quarter, in a 48-20 win, Worley made sure that no one would forget his name.
"When Justin gets on fire it's a beautiful thing to see," said wide receiver Brandon Lewis, who caught six passes for 172 yards and two TDs. "You don't have to watch him for long to see that he's one of the best quarterbacks around."
And he could be just what's needed in Knoxville. Worley, who committed to the Vols in early July, realizes that. He sees where the program is and believes that performances like the one he had on Saturday will benefit his future collegiate home.
"It something I think about and it's something I've been able to talk about with some of the other commits to the program," Worley said. "We are all going to do our part to help the program and we want people to know that Tennessee is bringing in quality players that will work hard to get the program back to the top."
Worley is a solid verbal for the Vols. He says he's not taking any official visits to other schools and will be in attendance for several games this season. He and Dooley stay in communication and he is always keeping tabs on the other prospects who are interested in Tennessee.
"I fully support the coaching staff and the way they are doing things," Worley said. "I believe Coach Dooley will turn out to be a great ambassador for the school."
Even South Pointe DE Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 150, begrudgingly complimented the player he tried so hard to torture on this warm Saturday.
"You give a quarterback like him too many opportunities and he's going to get you," Clowney said. "There were a lot of things we could have done better but he took advantage of our mistakes."
Worley hopes that he can take advantage of another opportunity he was given on Saturday and possibly coax some of the talent on the field to consider Tennessee.
One of those talents is, of course, Clowney and with the Volunteers having a desperate need for defensive linemen, the fit is there. Of course, every program in the country is after Clowney, including Alabama, South Carolina and Clemson, who Clowney says are recruiting him the hardest right now.
"I mean we've talked a little in the past but I don't think I'll be able to influence him," Worley joked. "He's a great player and we'd love to have him here but it's his decision and he's definitely not going to let me influence him."
So maybe Worley can't do everything for Tennessee right now, but he's trying. At worst, the Vols have a QB who is a proven TD passing machine (he had 50 TD passes as a sophomore, 42 last year and already has six this year). Maybe things are looking up on Rocky Top.
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.