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Published: Thursday, 6/30/2011

Wormley leaning toward Wolverines

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Chris Wormley Chris Wormley
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Whitmer's Chris Wormley is not ready to reveal his plans for playing college football just yet -- but he is willing to reveal his leader board.

With a month or so before the senior-to-be is expected to make an announcement regarding his future, the University of Michigan has emerged as the favorite to land the standout defensive lineman.

"Right now, it's Michigan," Wormley said Wednesday.

With Ohio State facing what appears to be inevitable punishment from the NCAA, Wormley has admittedly soured on the Buckeyes. Still, OSU remains a contender, as do -- to a seemingly lesser extent -- Michigan State and Notre Dame.

Wormley, who grew up cheering for the Wolverines, visited the Ann Arbor campus Sunday to meet with members of the coaching staff.

"It was real nice up there," he said. "All of the coaches made me feel real comfortable."

Wormley hopes to make time to check out other schools before Whitmer begins preseason practices Aug. 3. He expects to announce his decision no later than by the Panthers' first game in late August.

"It's been back and forth between Michigan and Ohio State," Whitmer coach Joe Palka said. "I know he was at Michigan [to visit], so I think it's safe to say they are in the lead. But I don't think his final decision's been made yet."

Every Big Ten school except for Minnesota and Penn State have offered Wormley (6-foot-6, 270 pounds) a scholarship, as have Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama from the Southeastern Conference. He is a two-time first team City League selection and is ranked the nation's 61st best recruit by CBS Sports.

Wormley is getting advice on making his decision from all directions. At Ohio State, his former high school teammate, freshman Kenny Hayes, is trying to convince Wormley to be a Buckeye. At Michigan, freshman Jack Miller of St. John's Jesuit is making a pitch for the Wolverines, as is Southview senior and Wolverines verbal commitment Allen Gant, whom Wormley bumped into this week at a basketball shoot-a-round.

"I'll listen to them," Wormley said. "It all goes into the memory bank."

Last September, Wormley said there's "a good chance" he'll end up joining Hayes at OSU. But that was before the Buckeyes' roof began caving in from the weight of NCAA investigators, leaving the stability of the program's future in question. Coach Jim Tressel was pressured by his bosses into resigning May 30 after it was revealed that Tressel lied to the NCAA about his knowledge of rules violations committed by his players. Sanctions are expected to come down against the program this fall, and a postseason ban -- for perhaps multiple seasons -- seems to be a possibility.

At Michigan, the momentum and morale of the program appears to have picked up -- at least away from the field -- following a rough three years under former coach Rich Rodriguez. New coach Brady Hoke's first full recruiting effort is off to a thunderous start, evidenced by CBS Sports ranking the 18-member class second best in the nation next to Texas.

Wormley has made a vow to himself to not let his boyhood attraction to the Wolverines factor into his decision.

"When the recruiting process started, I told myself it doesn't matter what team I liked as a kid, or who I rooted for," Wormley said. "It's going to be which school is best for me and what's best for my family."

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com or 419-724-6160



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