“We wanted him [at Alabama].”
Fortunately for Steve Sarkisian in his current position, he didn’t get what he wanted in his previous role, recruiting dynamic California receiver Xavier Worthy to come join the Crimson Tide.
‘’I just remember turning on his tape and he had some qualities about his style, his ability to transition with the ball, his ability to get in and out of breaks, the length that he had, the courage he showed going over the middle for not being the biggest guy,” Sark said of Worthy, who was ranked as the No. 8 receiver in his class. “And we started recruiting him.”
Had Sark gotten what he wanted then, he wouldn’t have Worthy in his receiver room now. Instead, Worthy went far north to sign with Jim Harbaugh and Michigan. Only a few months later, he announced his decommitment in mid-April, citing “circumstances beyond my control” and noting that he’d requested a release from his NLI.
The following week, Worthy became a Longhorn.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get him, but you just don’t burn bridges,” Sark said. You just try to wish them the best of luck and you never know what could happen and sure enough, a month or two months later, he ended up here [at Texas].”
Worthy didn’t just end up at Texas, though — he instantly starting impacting Texas.
He was routinely mentioned by both his teammates and Sarkisian as an early summer and fall camp standout, and beyond the praise, Worthy worked his was into a starting role to kick off his freshman season.
Now three games into his college career, he’s starting starting to show flashes of what Sark saw on film — the potential to become a real weapon at receiver.
After Worthy hauled in just three catches during his two appearances — two of which went for 34 and 25 yards — Sarkisian said there would be a greater emphasis to get Worthy involved against Rice. That proved true right out of the gates. Worthy received the first offensive touch on a jet sweep, and finished with seven receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown — all in the first half — including a 31-yard catch and run to move the chains on 4th and 3, and 13-yard touchdown grab.
This is why we're not worthy. Because he's Worthy.— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) September 19, 2021
Texas leading 44-0 over Rice and we're rolling on Texas GameDay Half pic.twitter.com/o0nAjyUqZS
“We’re, I think, starting to find some ways to get him the ball, and he’s comfortable doing that,” Sarkisian said, making note of Texas’ two other attempts to find Worthy downfield. “He’s comfortable moving around, playing multiple positions, and he plays well with the ball in his hands.
“He’s got a pretty wide array of style of play to him that lends us opportunities to do multiple things with him,” Sarkisian added.
That much was evident against Rice, as Texas looked to Worthy on jet sweeps, short slants, deep posts, fades and more. Now, Worthy’s responsible for three of Texas’ five longest receptions of the season, and he boasts a team-best 10 catches for 163 yards after leading the Longhorns in receptions that last two games.
And suddenly, while veteran receivers like Jordan Whittington, who struggled with drops against Arkansas and had just one catch for seven yards against Rice, and Joshua Moore, whose four receptions have netted just 39 yards, the young Worthy seems to be finding his footing and building confidence, not only in himself, but in his play caller.
“I think he’s got a real, internal drive about him. He came here with a mentality — he was coming here to work, he was coming here to learn a system, he was coming here to play. He wasn’t going to wait his turn and he’s earned everything that he’s gotten. I think we’re starting to see the speed factor that he possesses.”
So, with some upperclassmen seemingly stuck in neutral and Texas in somewhat desperate need of a playmaking pass catcher, it’s probably safe to expect Sark to continue to look Worthy’s way. And why wouldn’t he? When Texas has looked to Worthy thus far, it’s worked.