OU linebacker Tom Wort improved, more confident as a sophomore

Sooner linebacker ranks fifth on the team in tackles despite injuries.
By Mike Baldwin, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: November 3, 2011 at 6:02 pm •  Published: November 3, 2011

“Both of their running backs (Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray) are patient, strong, fast,” Wort said. “They're a great offense.”

Wort sometimes comes across as your stereotypical linebacker, a high-motor, physical player who will hit you.

But there are glimpses of his fun side. A good example is he developed a relationship with the Ultimate Warrior. Two months ago, the professional wrestler filmed a two-minute YouTube pep-talk message for Wort.

At home games Wort has worn Warrior-like tassels on his arms during pregame but has been informed he can't wear them during the game.

“I'm still trying to sneak them in,” Wort said. “When I ask the refs they always say, ‘No.' Maybe I'll have to put them on midway through a game and hope they don't notice.”

One constant form of motivation is Wort is playing this season for Austin Box, who died in May. They both played middle linebacker. Box taught Wort a lot about football and life. Wort thinks about his good friend every day.

“It's more noticeable on game day,” Wort said. “You see his locker, his helmet, his jersey. It reminds me of all the things he did, the love he had for the game. He'll always be on our hearts. ... I want to always play hard like he played.”

The next opportunity to play hard is against a dynamic A&M offense. Playing with more confidence, Wort is looking forward to the matchup.

“You have to play with emotion,” Wort said. “Emotion is contagious. It can get the whole defense going, get the crowd going ... It's going to be a big challenge. We're looking forward to it. That's why you play these games.”