Despite being committed to Michigan since July, Fresno (Calif.) Central East wide receiver Xavier Worthy is getting ready to make a final decision about his playing future.
While Michigan was losing to a winless Penn State team on its own field, Alabama was rolling Auburn in The Iron Bowl by almost 30 and Worthy was on hand to watch it in person. Worthy got to see Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith catch seven balls for 171 yards and two scores. Unfortunately for Michigan, Worthy and Smith are essentially carbon copies of each other. Smith goes 6-1, 175 pounds and possesses 10.67 speed in the 100-meter dash. The two have similar builds and are considered deep threats who can execute the entire route tree. There's no doubt that Worthy saw himself in Smith while watching Bama beat up on the Tigers.
I exchanged a few messages with Worthy ahead of his Alabama visit and he definitely seems to be enjoying himself as he navigates the recruiting process. He laughed and said, "I know," when I told him he has Michigan fans freaking out and then said he had no interest in calming down the fanbase because of how funny it all is.
I then asked him if he was thinking about Alabama pretty seriously and he said, "You can say that."
Our last exchange was the most telling to me. When I asked if he intended to stick with Michigan, he simply responded with the date of National Signing Day, which is Dec. 16. Then I said, "Uh oh, I know what that usually means. I've been doing this a long time and dudes who are solid have no problem saying so," to which he replied, "I'm different. I'm not dudes, I'm Xavier Worthy."
I respect the thought, but I don't believe the words.
Look, if he bucks the trend and goes against conventional wisdom and sticks with U-M, more power to him. He is different and he isn't like everyone else. I just can't imagine an athlete like him, who sees Alabama's offense and Michigan's offense every week, picking the Wolverines. Why would he? Even the most avid Michigan fan would struggle to come up with legitimate reasons.
Now, recruiting is tricky. Prospects pick schools for a myriad of reasons. On-field performance is one of the bigger ones, but it's not everything. Worthy has formed a very solid bond with quarterback JJ McCarthy and clearly likes the U-M staff. Whether or not these coaches will be here next fall is another discussion, but they're a big reason why Worthy picked U-M in the first place. Education, location, campus culture and distance from home are a few other biggies and I'd give Michigan the edge in three of those four. Distance from home obviously isn't a factor as Fresno is nowhere near Ann Arbor or Tuscaloosa.
At the end of the day it's all about where Worthy feels comfortable. Going from being an 18-year old kid to a 22-year old young man is a big transition and an important part of a young adult's development so football can't be the only factor. Still, it's hard to imagine any big time recruit picking the Wolverines over Nick Saban and the Tide right now.