Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 1/5/12
You shake your head every year with some of the decisions made by college football and basketball players to turn pro early. Not in the case of Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. From all indications, he's not taking a bad gamble. Far from it. Worthy is projected as a "very high" NFL draft pick based on feedback he's received from the league and that Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio got from other scouts and front-office personnel. At the very least, Worthy is expected to be at least a first-round pick, perhaps even early to middle of the first round. What's more, he is close enough to graduating that he could have his degree before his first NFL game. When a player is holding what amounts to a winning lottery ticket, as Worthy is doing, you can't blame them for foregoing the remainder of their college eligibility. In Worthy's case, that's one more year. In situations like that, the college coaches can't be greedy. They have to support the player's move, even if it's going to hurt his team for the next season. This is exactly how Dantonio handled it. During Thursday's news conference to make the announcement, Dantonio said Worthy had handled the situation "with dignity and class." Worthy indicated that one of factors for leaving was to help his family financially. His father suffered a stroke in 2010 and needs better medical treatment for ongoing paralysis. The Spartans, obviously, will miss an All-America player like Worthy. His presence up front was a big reason why Michigan State won 11 games with a defense ranked among the top-10 in the nation. Worthy's departure leaves MSU a little thin at defensive tackle, but there is a standout player with the potential to replace that type of dominance in the middle. It's Anthony Rashad White, who blocked a final goal in the third overtime to clinch the Outback Bowl victory over Georgia earlier this week. White. a junior-college transfer, simply needs to stay healthy for a full season. He was injured this season, but he has the talent to contend for all-conference status when he's full strength. Most JUCO transfers have only two years of eligibility when they arrive at their new school. The first year is spent making the adjustment. They often become quality players in their second year, but then they're gone. White, a native of Battle Creek, Mich., was a rare case. He came to Michigan State with three years of eligibility because he attended junior college for only one year. This defense loses only two other key parts besides Worthy -- free safety Trenton Robinson and nose tackle Kevin Pickelman. It should be one of the nation's top defenses again with the likes of end William Gholston and linebackers Denicos Allen and Max Bullough. But there's still one more question that has to be answered: Will defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi be back? Narduzzi, who has run Dantonio's defense since 2004, reportedly has interviewed for the same position at Texas A&M under new coach Kevin Sumlin. An offer from A&M likely would include a hefty, if not enormous, pay raise from what he's making at Michigan State. The salaries of MSU's assistant coaches have come under fire this year, especially with the success of the program (two straight 11-victory seasons, including a co-Big Ten championship in 2010 and a Big Ten Legends Division title in 2011). Many assistants around the country make far more than Michigan State's assistants. You can make the argument that those other coaches are overpaid, but that's what the market dictates these days. Michigan State is being forced to respond if it wants to keep its coaching staff intact, particularly with Narduzzi, who is considered a top-notch recruiter. There have been reports that MSU is ready to give out raises, but how much more? Is it enough? Dantonio wouldn't discuss Narduzzi's status during Thursday's presser, saying that the day was for Worthy. If the Spartans want this success to continue on the football field, they absolutely must pay the going price to assistant coaches. Continuity in the coaching staff is partly responsible for the program's recent rise. At the end of the day, you can understand losing Worthy, but not Narduzzi. Extra point Receiver DeAnthony Arnett, ranked as a four-star recruit by Scout.com coming out of Saginaw (Mich.) High a year ago, has decided to transfer from Tennessee to Michigan State. He has cited his father's health problems as the reason. Because of that, he could receive a hardship waiver from the NCAA and become eligible for next season rather than having to sit out a year. The immediate addition of Arnett would help an offense that loses three of its top receivers in B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol. Arnett had 24 catches for 242 yards and one touchdown as a freshman for Tennessee.
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