Script by Inside The Huddle
A 6-5, 303-pound fifth-year senior, Chris Wormley is a rare specimen. If he starts at defensive end, he’d be the heaviest defensive end Michigan has ever had. However, the talk is that Wormley will move inside to defensive tackle this fall, paving the way for five-star phenom Rashan Gary to play off the edge opposite senior Taco Charlton.
Wormley is peaking going into his final season a Wolverine. After a sophomore campaign in which he had five tackles for loss and three sacks, the Toledo native recorded 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2015, and the offseason hubbub was that he could challenge the single-season sack record of 12, held by David Bowens in 1996 and LaMarr Woodley in 2006.
Wormley is already in the record books of sorts. His 7.0 tackles for loss last season against Utah, Oregon State and UNLV represent the second-most ever tallied by a Wolverine in the first three games of a season and is the best mark ever by a defensive lineman — only linebacker Shawn Crable had more in a three-game start, notching eight en route to a single-season record 28.5 in 2007.
Wormley also finished his junior season strong, with 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage in Michigan’s blowout win over Florida in the Citrus Bowl.
So who does Wormley most compare to going into his senior year? Maybe Josh Williams, who was an early star with 11 TFL and seven sacks as a redshirt sophomore on Michigan’s 1997 national championship team? Williams was 6-3, 279 pounds and played mostly defensive tackle, though he did have the versatility to go outside on a few occasions.
How about Woodley? Woodley had 32 tackles for loss and 12 sacks going into his senior season while Wormley has 24 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 12 sacks going into HIS senior year.
Woodley, 6-2, 269 pounds, was named the best defensive lineman in the country as a senior in 2006, winning the Ted Hendricks Award while earning first-team All-American honors. If Wormley had similar success, Michigan would be ecstatic.
But with Wormley moving inside, one former Wolverine stands out — Alan Branch. Branch was a part of that 2006 Michigan defense, and while Woodley commanded attention on the outside, Branch, at 6-6, 331 pounds, and with a quick first step, was a force in the middle of the defensive line. Branch left Ann arbor after his junior year, leaving so many Maize and Blue fans wondering what might have been.
We won’t have that issue with Wormley. Relying on power and strength, solid technique and a quicker burst at the snap than he’s given credit for, Wormley could offer Michigan fans the senior season they never experienced with Branch.