One of 10 children, Al Worley grew up in Wenatchee, Washington which is called the Apple Capital of the World. Playing football, basketball and baseball, Worley was a decent player, but he was shocked when the Washington Huskies offered him a scholarship.
One of the assistant coaches even stated that Worley would never play a down for the Washington Huskies.
Arriving to school in 1964, freshmen were not eligible to play back then and Worley wasn’t even playing on the freshman team. He was recruited as a wide receiver, but wanted to play defense and he broke his hand in 1965. The injury to his hand forced him to redshirt in 1965.
Back in the days of Al Worley, schools had unlimited scholarships available and often they would bring in 40, or 50, or even more in a recruiting class. If the recruit didn’t have what it took to make their program better, they would often try to run the player off by whatever means possible. It may
have been the assistant’s way of running off Al Worley by saying he would never play.
But, he proved the coach wrong by sticking it out.
In 1966 and 1967, Worley started seeing more and more playing time, but these Washington teams weren’t very good. The 1968 version of the Huskies only won 3 games.
But, Al Worley was maybe the one shining star of that season.
The season started on September 15th with the Rice Owls coming to town. The Huskies and Owls tied 35-35 and Worley picked off 2 passes that day.
The following week, Washington traveled to Wisconsin and beat the Badgers 21-17. It was Worley’s 3 interceptions that helped save the game for the Huskies.
In a loss to Oregon State, Worley stole another pass from his opponents and against USC, he grabbed another. OJ Simpson was the Heisman Trophy winner of that year, and he ran for 172 yards against the Huskies.
The following Saturday, the Huskies beat up on Idaho and intercepted an astounding 8 passes. You’d think the Vandals would quit throwing the ball after about 5 or 6. Al Worley picked off an amazing 4 passes that day to bring himself into the national spotlight.
In that game, Worley also shut down the top receiver in the country, while having a field day making the Vandal quarterbacks crazy.
Amazingly, on November 2nd, the Huskies played the 8th ranked Cal Golden Bears. Wait, that’s not the amazing part. The astonishing fact that happened in this game was that the unwanted guy picked off 2 more passes to total 13 on the season.
In the Huskies 9th game, Worley notched his 14th interception of the season and sealed the win for his team against UCLA.
The 14 picks made Al Worley a national celebrity in college football for a short time and it made him a consensus All American.
The NFL was not interested in a small, slow defensive back and all Worley ever played after college
was one season with a new pro league that vanished after his one season.
The 14 interceptions in a season was one that would last for 46 years, but even then, it was only tied.
Gerod Holliman was a complete opposite of Al Worley in almost every way. Living at the opposite end of the country in Miami, Florida, Holliman was a tremendous talent in high school. At Miami Southridge High School, Holliman picked off 12 passes as a senior and he returned 5 of those for a touchdown.
He was a 4 star recruit and if the rankings had been around back in Al Worley’s day, he would have been unranked.
Holliman was an outstanding athlete, but he had to attend a prep school after high school.
Holliman got to Louisville in 2012 and was injured in his 3rd college game and was able to redshirt that season. As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Holliman got two starts and contributed 19 tackles.
It was the 2014 season that put Gerod Holliman on the football map. It also put Al Worley back in the limelight again because of his decades long record. The advantage that Holliman held over Worley was the Huskies played in only 10 games while the Louisville Cardinals played 13 games.
Regardless of the number of games, nobody else has done it in 46 years. Holliman got his record tying season off right with his first interception against the Miami Hurricanes. In games 3 and 4 against Virginia and Florida International, he got 2 picks in each game. He had 5 interceptions in 4
games and nobody was thinking of any records then.
Holliman then grabbed one interception each against Wake Forest and Syracuse to up his total up to 7. In a loss to Clemson, the ball hawk was unable to secure any picks, but he got rolling again against North Carolina State with a single steal.
Then, the magic happened for Holliman, he picked off 2 passes against Florida State and Jameis Winston. Then, he grabbed a season high 3 interceptions against Boston College giving him 13 on the season.
Gerod Holliman had a legitimate shot at the ages old interception record with 3 games left.
But, in 3 games, Holliman only grabbed 1 more errant pass to tie Al Worley.
In the 2014 season, Gerod Holliman was a consensus All American, much like Worley had been back in 1968. Grabbing 14 interceptions in one season will do that for you.
Holliman was also the Jim Thorpe Award winner which is something that wasn’t even around when Worley played.
Worley had been a senior when he set the record, and Holliman was a redshirt sophomore when he tied it. Having such a good season, Holliman made the mistake that everyone’s making these days and he declared for the NFL Draft. I’m not against anyone declaring early, if they are going to be a 1st, or 2nd round pick. Or, if they’ve already graduated. But, most kids are not even drafted and some are out of football without a degree.
Holliman was a 7th round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers, very much near the last person drafted. The Steelers cut him and then he signed on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was cut by them. As of 2015, he was out of football, but recently signed with an Arena League team.
I do hope he goes back to school and finishes his degree. But, he made very little in the NFL and now he has to pay his own way.
Al Worley and Gerod Holliman could not be any different both on and off the field. But, they will always be bonded by the interceptions.