NORMAN — Politicians are often experts in the art of camouflaged speech; a single elected official's views may sound entirely different on any given day, depending on that day's targeted demographic.
The prime minister of Oklahoma's defense, with roots firmly planted in both the United States and his native England, camouflages the way he talks, too, depending on his audience.
But for junior linebacker Tom Wort, it isn't the meaning of his words that change; it's the way they sound.
Wort has come by it honestly; when he talks to Americans, he speaks with his acquired accent. But when he's talking to a fellow Brit, his native accent returns.
Many times after Wort's media interviews are posted to YouTube, his loved ones back home recognize the face, but not voice emerging from it.
“All the time, they say I've lost my accent,” said Wort, who moved to the United States as a 14-year old.
“Sometimes I wish I had kept the British accent. But I couldn't help it.”
Wort's voice may be a flip-flopper, but he's never wavered from his love of Great Britain. Wort's dream is to return to England and teach kids there the sport he loves.
For now, though, Wort is busy preparing for another Sooner football season. The aggressive, enthusiastic Wort is tired of hearing about the defensive collapses that cost OU three games and, along with them, some respect for Wort and the Sooner defense he leads.
Travis Lewis, the vocal, animated linebacker now with the Detroit Lions, is gone, and Wort's elevation to unit elder statesman has come naturally.
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TOM WORT'S CAMPAIGN SLOGAN
Victory, however long and hard the road may be
Wort, the Sooners' British-born middle linebacker, is prime minister of the Sooner defense. It only seems right, then, that his slogan should come from Winston Churchill. This line is pulled from a speech delivered to parliament on May 13, 1940, a dark time for the British, who were trying to fend off German invasion during World War II.
TOM WORT ENDORSEMENTS
* Retired professional wrestler: “The Ultimate Warrior,” last October to Rivals.com: “He uses his body like a weapon. He just throws it. I thought that was pretty impressive.”
* OU defensive end R.J. Washington, during spring practices: “I feel completely safe when I look back behind me and see Tom. I know he's going to go bust somebody's head.”
* OU DL David King: “Tom's been one of the leaders of this defense for the past two, three years now. He's really doing a good job of getting us motivated. I'm ready to see what he's going to do this year.”
* OU coach Bob Stoops: “Hopefully Tom will have a great year, continuing to be a leader. He is a tough, hard playing guy for us, so we will see.”