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Worilds to enter NFL draft

Defensive end Jason Worilds on Thursday announced he would forgo his senior year at Virginia Tech to enter the NFL draft, leaving the Hokies absent many important starters on defense in 2010.

"It’s bittersweet," Worilds said in a teleconference, citing Hokies coaches, players and fans for their support in his career. "It's bitter in that aspect that I'm closing that chapter in my life. But it's also a new and exciting chapter; I'm taking another step in my life and taking another step toward being a man."

The announcement by Worilds, a junior, came as something of a surprise. Although Worilds, already a star, would have been the most obvious of the underclassmen to enter the draft, he seemed to have his mind set on coming back. Before the Hokies' win over Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31, he told reporters that he planned to return for his senior season because there has "unfinished business." He was referring to winning a national championship.

But on Thursday, Worilds said he came to the decision after a week's worth of deliberation. He said he spoke too soon when he initially said he would return; Worilds filed paperwork with the NFL advisory committee, but declined to indicate what feedback he received regarding his draft prospects.

Now, without Worilds, Virginia Tech's defense in 2010 look even thinner. The Hokies will lose key senior starters such as linebacker Cody Grimm, free safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Stephan Virgil. In 2009, the unit ranked 12th in total defense and 10th in scoring defense.

"Jason is a very talented player, but is also a very smart player," Coach Frank Beamer said Thursday in a statement. "He was great for Virginia Tech and we wish him the best in the NFL."

At 6 feet 2, 262 pounds, Worilds does not have an archetype build for the professional game. He could play at defensive end in a 4-3 defense or at linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He said he was open to playing either position.

"I'm a football player," Worilds said. "I'm just happy with the opportunity I have to play. Position-wise, I don’t have any personal preference. I have heard different things."

Although he said he is "a couple of papers away from graduating," Worilds was not sure what his immediate plans would be or where he would start training for the draft. Worilds was vague when asked who would be representing him, but said he does not have an agent.

As for where he might end up getting drafted, Worilds said: "The draft is so tricky now. I would hope to be a first-day guy. But with the draft being so tricky, you never know what’s going to be what."

Worilds was a fearsome presence on Virginia Tech's defensive line. A two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference performer, he recorded 49 tackles this season, including 11 for loss and 4 ½ sacks. Worilds had a team-leading 32 quarterback hurries.

Before the season, Bud Foster, the Hokies' defensive coordinator, compared Worilds to Virginia Tech greats Corey Moore and Darryl Tapp. Although Worilds was undersized, he developed into a skilled pass rusher by using technique and leverage. But many Virginia Tech fans may remember him for the reputation for toughness he burnished after playing the 2008 season with a separated shoulder for much of the year.

"I would say a learning experience," Worilds said when asked to sum up his career in Blacksburg. "Throughout the years, I’ve learned so much not only academically, but just life lessons and being around the guys and being around the coaches and them teaching us how to be men and how the real world works. I would say it was definitely a learning experience."

Video of Worilds in Virginia Tech's season-opening loss to Alabama in Atlanta.

Video of Worilds in Virginia Tech's win over Boston College in the 2008 ACC championship game.

By Mark Viera  |  January 7, 2010; 5:30 PM ET
 
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