By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN - Oklahoma had a third underclassman declare for the NFL Draft on Wednesday, but this one came out of the blue. Middle linebacker Tom Wort has elected to forgo his final season of eligibility.
“We wish Tom the very best as he concludes his time at the University of Oklahoma,” OU coach Bob Stoops said in a statement Wednesday night. “Tom has earned his degree and has informed me that he plans to declare for the NFL Draft.”
The fourth-year junior started 12 of OU’s 13 games this season, but saw his role drastically reduced from his previous two seasons as a starter. OU went with a defensive back-heavy scheme that kept Wort and weakside linebacker Corey Nelson on the sideline against spread offenses. Redshirt freshman Frank Shannon was the only linebacker on the field against four-or-more receiver sets.
Late in the season, Wort admitted his role on the team had transformed in Mike Stoops’ first season back as defensive coordinator.
“The position has definitely changed and the game of football is always evolving. You have to adapt,” he said on Nov. 26. “We’re all just doing the best that we can.”
The lack of playing time showed in Wort’s production. He finished the season with 53 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
Prior to OU’s 41-13 loss to Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, linebackers coach Tim Kish said the linebacker position would be emphasized more next season.
“It’s just one of those things where it was the first time for us going through the league and seeing what was out there and having to kind of adjust on the run a little bit,” he said. “We weren’t perfect. That’s for sure, not in all our decisions.”
Wort is the third junior to declare for the NFL Draft this week. Safety Tony Jefferson and wide receiver Kenny Stills informed OU they were leaving on Monday. Cornerback Aaron Colvin is still mulling the decision.
Wort, who enrolled at OU in the spring of 2009 and graduated with a degree in sociology, is the only one of the group who has received his degree. Underclassmen have until Tuesday to declare for the NFL Draft.