What Chris Worley has done the past three games has to be a rare feat among Ohio State linebackers.
Worley has played all three linebacker spots — strongside, middle and weakside — over that span. On Saturday against Illinois, he was on the strongside for the second straight week, with Tuf Borland in the middle and Jerome Baker, returning from a concussion, on the weakside.
And Worley was the lightning rod for the defense through a rain that grew more intense as the game ensued.
“I can do a lot of things on the football field, thanks to God,” Worley said. “Whatever I’m asked to do I’m going to do it, as long as it helps the team win.”
And about all of that rain, he said, “It was soaking, but it wasn’t cold out.”
He intended to have fun regardless, because as a senior captain, that was his final game at Ohio Stadium. He and safety Erick Smith — fellow seniors and Cleveland Glenville graduates — led the Buckeyes in tackles, Smith with six and Worley with five.
But due to the stranglehold that the defense put on the Illini, they ran just 42 plays.
“Someone called me (Friday) night, told me, ‘You and Erick are going to be the last Glenville dudes on this team, basically,’” Worley said, referring to the program run by coach Ted Ginn Sr. that was once considered an Ohio State pipeline. “It just feels crazy.”
Smith wasn’t available for comment, but Worley said Smith found out he was starting in place of Jordan Fuller just moments before the game. Worley said he pulled Smith aside for a pep talk.
“ ‘Just go play football, you’re good at this, this is what you do,’ " Worley said. “ ‘You don’t have to do anything extra, and the rest will take care of itself.’ ”
Campbell on move
Hybrid back Parris Campbell used the Michigan State game to get his feet back under him after having to miss the loss at Iowa the week before because of a concussion. But against Illinois, he came out flying, including on a 44-yard end-around run that set up Ohio State’s second touchdown.
“This week in practice I just felt back to myself,” said Campbell, who also caught three passes for 59 yards. “It was kind of weird playing that first game last week, but I just felt back to myself this week.”
That’s important for the offense, coach Urban Meyer said, because, “He's dynamic. And he hasn't played like that (recently because of injuries). But that just tells that you have to practice.”
All week, the Buckeyes downplayed the emotions they anticipated for senior day. But on Saturday it hit them.
Nineteen Buckeyes, some from the already legendary 2013 recruiting class, were introduced. On the scoreboard, video messages from players’ parents were played. Players got ovations as they were greeted and hugged by Meyer before embracing their parents and siblings.
“The video of my mom was up there and I teared up,” senior center Billy Price said. “I am human.”
Tyquan Lewis swallowed up his entire family with his hug.
“It was the best hug I’ve ever gotten,” he said. “I’ve worked extremely hard to get to this moment. I’ve gotten a degree, a lot of recognition and awards. My family is all I’ve got. With that hug, it was like a warm feeling going right through my body.”
Worley said players got emotional in the tunnel awaiting their introductions.
“It was kind of rough for me because everyone was crying — Tracy (Sprinkle) and Tyquan. I was telling them, ‘Stop crying or you’ll make me cry.’
“It was pretty emotional. Seeing my mom crying and my dad choked up is one of those things you can’t explain.”
QB takes hard hit
Illinois quarterback Chayce Crouch, from Newark Catholic, had a tough day.
Not only did the junior complete 4 of his 14 passing attempts for only 16 yards, he left the game in the fourth quarter after being hit out of bounds by Ohio State’s Isaiah Pryor.
Coach Lovie Smith didn’t elaborate on his status, but he noticeably limped toward the Illinois sideline and went directly with trainers to the medical tent.
“He took a shot on the sideline and landed hard on the concrete,” Smith said.
Crouch made the start due to injuries to sophomore Jeff George Jr. and freshman Cam Thomas.