In January, linebacker Tom Wort stunned everyone from the fans to the Oklahoma coaches when he revealed he was skipping his senior year of college to enter the NFL draft. Wort struggled to adjust to a new scheme and new position coach, as the Sooners de-emphasiszed the linebacker position the second half of the season to try and combat the spread offenses of the Big 12. After OU's pro day Wednesday, Wort spoke with SoonerNation in his first interview since deciding to declare for the draft:
SoonerNation: What went into the decision to leave, how did you make it?
Tom Wort: The fact I graduated was a huge part of it. I came to OU to get a degree and play football. I just thought it was my time to take my shot at the next level.
SN: I don’t think there’s any question last season was an adjustment for you with the new scheme, the new coaching staff defensively. Did that play into the decision at all?
Wort: Somewhat, but for the most part, I just wanted to get to that next level. It’s been my dream. I had the opportunity, I got my degree, so I decided to take it.
SN: When did you make your decision to come out?
Wort: Right after the Cotton Bowl. I took about a week, and then came and talked to coach [Tim] Kish and told him, and then got ready for training.
SN: How did he and coach [Bob] Stoops react?
Wort: I talked to coach Bob Stoops, Coach Kish first. He said he understood and wished me the best.
SN: You said you took a week after the Cotton Bowl, but when did you first think you might come out?
Wort: The thought was always there from the start of the season, and just made the decision finally at the end of the season.
SN: What NFL teams have you heard from?
Wort: Specifics I don’t want to get into, but I’ve had three teams call about private workouts. I got to talk to every linebacker coach at the combine. That really helped getting in front of them, talking to them and explaining things.
SN: What did you have to explain?
Wort: Just explaining the reason why I wanted to come out. That it was my shot, my dream.
SN: If you had come back you would have had a shot again next year. Did you feel like the risk was too much?
Wort: Before last season there were predictions and ratings and whatever, then the season went the way it did. Obviously I’m not in a position I wanted to be at. But I still feel like I’m in a position where I’m going to get into camp and work and show teams what I got. So it’s not something I’m really worried about.
SN: So you felt like your stock would have been higher this year than next year?
Wort: No, not necessarily. It was always an option to come back and re-raise my draft stock. Just thinking it over, there wasn’t a guarantee that it was going to go back up. So I just decided to leave now.
SN: How tough was this last season? I know you were close to former OU defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Venables. I know you liked his scheme a lot, and then OU didn’t use linebackers a lot this season.
Wort: It was a very difficult season. Look at the defense, especially with what happened with the linebackers, it was incredibly difficult. I just did the best I could and help the guys out I could help.
SN: If Brent were still here, you think you would have come back?
Wort: I don’t think Coach V would’ve let me leave.