NORMAN — Oklahoma middle linebacker Tom Wort intends to forgo his senior season and declare for the 2013 NFL Draft, coach Bob Stoops confirmed in a statement Wednesday evening.
“We wish Tom the very best as he concludes his time at the University of Oklahoma,” Stoops said. “Tom has earned his degree and has informed me that he plans to declare for the NFL Draft.”
Wort becomes the third Sooner underclassman to declare for the draft; receiver Kenny Stills and safety Tony Jefferson announced Monday they would leave Oklahoma.
Cornerback Aaron Colvin is still deciding whether to join Wort, Stills and Jefferson in the 2013 draft or return for his senior season; underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the NFL Draft.
Colvin tweeted Wednesday, “Congrats to my bro Tom Wort, going to chase his dreams!”
Wort struggled through this season under a new defensive coordinator; he was recruited out of New Braunfels, Texas, by former coordinator Brent Venables.
Wort arrived in Norman with lots of excitement; he chose the Sooners over offers from LSU and Texas A&M, but struggled through injuries during his first few years on campus.
Last January, Mike Stoops returned to Oklahoma, replaced Venables — now Clemson’s defensive coordinator — and installed a new defensive system that asked linebackers to funnel ball carriers to defensive backs.
The result was a dramatic decrease in production from Wort; after recording 71 tackles and 3.5 sacks during his injury plagued sophomore season, Wort’s numbers dropped to 53 and two, respectively.
After the Sooners’ September home loss to Kansas State, Wort was roundly criticized by fans and media for his perceived lack of involvement in the defense. He badly whiffed on Wildcats’ running back John Hubert’s 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
A few weeks later, though, Wort forced a fumble in Oklahoma’s 63-21 rout of Texas, and seemed to be finally adapting to Mike Stoops’ system.
“Of course I’ve had my struggles this season,” Wort said a few days after the Texas game. “I think anyone can see that. With the coaching change, and the system, it’s been hard for me.