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Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Shannon now the favorite to start at MLB

By Brandon Chatmon

Tom Wort’s decision to leave Oklahoma for the NFL draft impacts the Sooners in 2013 but will allow a young playmaker to make a bigger contribution.

Tom Wort
Tom Wort started 33 games for the Sooners.
Though there’s no guarantee that Wort, a junior linebacker who started 33 of 37 career games, would have been the starting middle linebacker for the Sooners in 2013, his experience will be missed. Wort, who averaged 63 tackles per season, would have competed with redshirt freshman Frank Shannon to anchor the middle of OU’s defense next season.

Now, with Wort declaring for the NFL draft, Shannon appears to be the uncontested starter at middle linebacker. The good news is that Shannon showed signs of being a playmaker in his first season on the field, even starting two games. The main concern is Wort’s departure will test Shannon’s inner hunger to continue to grow as a player with limited competition for playing time at his position currently on the roster.

Wort’s departure also could spark the Sooners to try to add an additional linebacker to its recruiting class, although OU’s struggles to secure elite linebackers had already emerged as a major storyline in this recruiting cycle. It also makes the decommitment of Jordan Mastrogiovanni considerably more impactful than it was on Sunday.

The combination of Wort’s departure and Mastrogiovanni’s flip to Texas A&M could spark the Sooners to be more willing to take a risk and bring in project at middle linebacker with the hopes of creating depth. It’s a risk that might pay off or it might not.

Make no mistake, OU has stumbled into the new year, so the Sooners need something good to happen. And they need it to happen soon.