NORMAN — With former Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis likely headed toward a career in pro football, Tom Wort will look to become the Sooners' next dominant linebacker. The 6-foot, 229-pound junior from New Braunfels, Texas, recorded 77 total tackles for Oklahoma last season, including 37 for a loss.
He's been watchful of Oklahoma's linebacking corps and is impressed with senior Jaydan Bird, while adjusting to Oklahoma's new linebackers coach and defensive coordinator.
Q: Did you know last year that you were going to have to step up this year?
A: I realized it before last year. Playing middle linebacker, you're going to have to lead and make calls. With Travis being out and during two-a-days, I had to step up and be that guy. It's not something I'm not used to. I was that guy all through high school, every level I've played at. Now it's just time to elevate the level and be a leader here.
Do find yourself motivating your teams more this winter than during previous winters?
You just gotta lead by example. I try to set a good example for the younger guys to follow.
What's it like with coach Mike Stoops out there?
He's another fiery guy. He's knows what he's doing, knows what he's talking about. He's getting us right. We've only just started, but I'm looking forward to the rest of the spring and seeing how it goes.
Do you think he'll help this defense?
Yeah, absolutely. I think he's a great coach, and he's going to help us out.
How's your back?
Back feels fine. I'm still kind of dealing with an ankle injury a little bit. High-ankle sprains can linger around for a long time. That's the only little thing I'm working on right now. But other than that, I feel good. I feel real good.
Who are the other guys to watch at the linebacker position?
It's up for grabs. A lot of guys are playing well. But one guy who's stood out to me so far is Jayadan Bird. Dude's just really been competing. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do. He's had a great winter. He's played all three positions. He's smart guy and can do it all.
What do you think of Coach Kish?
Coach Kish is a real cool dude. He makes us students of the game. You really gotta study.
What's the adjustment to a new coach?
It's a different style of coaching. There's only one Coach Venables, but there's only one Coach Kish. It's gonna be different, but we're really just seeing how spring goes. We're all trying to feel each other out, but so far it's gone really good.
How would you describe him? Is he more laid back? Less hands-on?
He's definitely hands-on. He gets fired up at practice. I say he's a little more laid back than Venables, but I don't think that's a hard feat to accomplish.