Snapshot: Doug Worthington

Doug Worthington (Getty Images)

Doug Worthington was the Steelers' seventh-round pick last April, but as he learned from the man ahead of him at the top of the RDE depth chart, the rookie from Ohio State can make it from there.

Doug Worthington thought he knew what to expect when he reported to spring workouts with the Pittsburgh Steelers last spring.

After all, his new defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, was the source of many of the schematic twists and turns during Worthington's days at Ohio State. And off the field, Worthington figured he knew what to expect from his new teammates, being that his father watched the Steelers as an avid fan every week from their suburban Buffalo home.

"Coming in as a rookie," Worthington said, "you have the thought that great players such as Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel are going to be jerks, are going to be mean to rookies. But those guys were the total opposite."

On the first day, Worthington was approached by Keisel, who acted like a common journalist by asking the common question: How do you feel about being a seventh-round draft pick?

"I was like, ‘I'm happy and blessed just to have been drafted,'" Worthington told the Steelers' starting right defensive end.

"It was the God's honest truth. I told him anybody would like to have been drafted a little sooner, but at the end of the day I'm still going to bust my tail. He stopped me and said, ‘Well I went at the same pick, No. 242 to Pittsburgh, and you see where I'm at now.'"

Keisel, the 242nd pick of the 2002 draft, has one unofficial AFC Championship game MVP honor, two Super Bowl rings, two big contract extensions, and a network of relationships in Pittsburgh that'll provide for his future once he retires.

Keisel likely wants to leave a legacy on the field, too, so he gave Worthington some tips about making the roster and playing in the league.

"He said it's nothing but hard work and doing well on special teams, and that when my chance comes I have to make sure I get up there and take advantage of it," Worthington said. "It was a very meaningful talk, and it sticks with me today. It's something that I definitely want to keep in mind and continue to work very hard."

Worthington has always understood the meaning of hard work. His father, Douglas Lee Worthington, was once a power forward at Colorado University. He raised his son, Douglas Andre Worthington, in Athol Springs, N.Y., where young Doug led St. Francis High School to its first national ranking in school history.

"I had a lot of highlights," Worthington said when asked about his prep days. "I took a guy out of the championship game my sophomore year. We were playing at Bills Stadium. I took the quarterback out with a hit on him. We won. We also beat St. Ignatius (Ohio) when I was a captain my senior year. I had three sacks, two other tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and like three other tackles. I had a great game. St. Ignatius was ranked at the top of the country. After that, my high school was ranked 22nd in the country."

Worthington was named to the Parade All-America team after the season and was recruited by Ohio State, Florida State, Alabama, LSU and Penn State, among others. He chose Ohio State because he had family in the Columbus area and because he felt he had a chance to play earlier for the Buckeyes.

He was right. Worthington became a full-time starter at defensive end as a redshirt sophomore and remained there through his senior season, when he was named a team captain. He capped off his career by playing his best games in an overtime win over Iowa to clinch a berth in the Rose Bowl, and then in the Rose Bowl when he deflected a pass to set up the field goal that cemented the win over Oregon.

Another highlight for Worthington his senior year – one he didn't realize at the time – was the team's increased use of the Steelers-style 3-4 front. Ohio State even used Pittsburgh's nickel front in which Worthington moved inside on passing downs.

"Our coaches think the world of (Ohio State alumnus) Dick LeBeau and they implemented a lot of things he did," Worthington said. "I was ready for a lot of the things we did in Pittsburgh this spring, but it's called a lot differently. The terminology's different, but it's very similar to what I used to run."

More important than having the knowledge, Worthington has the attitude to play a position that doesn't come with much fanfare.

"The thing about a defense," Worthington said, "if everybody does his job, you're more likely to get praise. You have to be sound. But just seeing those linebackers go to the Pro Bowl, I know Aaron and Brett love that. It's hard to get as many sacks and tackles as they probably would like. I know going against all the double teams and with all the two-gapping they do it kind of makes it hard to get off the ball. But those guys get a lot of credit when those other guys, those linebackers, go to Pro Bowls and accomplish big things, and then your nose guard does well and goes to Pro Bowls, too. It takes a whole defense to have what they have."

In more ways than one, Worthington, the 6-5¼, 290-pound end with the 4.9 40 speed and 35½ vertical jump, is a fit in Pittsburgh.

"What's most important there are hard-nosed players who don't need the recognition," Worthington said. "At Ohio State I probably could've made more plays if I did things outside of my assignment. But if I did, I would've left the defense vulnerable and they could've been burnt. It's about playing sound football.

"Yeah, my combine numbers were fine. I was actually not pleased with some of them because I had a lingering injury, but it was a blessing. Pittsburgh has some blue-collar guys in a great locker room. The opportunity is tremendous and I just want to make sure I capitalize on this situation."

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