Rebuilt confidence fueling Nelson this spring

NORMAN, Okla. — This just in: Tom Wort wasn't the only Sooner linebacker frustrated with how things went last season.

This just in: Tom Wort wasn't the only Sooner linebacker frustrated with how things went last season.

Corey Nelson admits he was, too, even to the point of considering following in Wort's footsteps.

"I thought about it," Nelson said about pondering an early exit to the NFL Draft. "Yeah, I did. I did. But I put it in God's hands and he just decided—I decided that it was the best decision. God just told me it was the best decision for me to just stay another year because my teammates need me."

But staying for his fourth and final season as a Sooner didn't come with a struggle.

Nelson is quick to point out OU's new defensive schemes under coordinator Mike Stoops and linebackers coach Tim Kish that featured six and sometimes seven defensive backs and, as a product, often times one or no linebackers wore on his confidence.

The player previous linebackers coach and defensive coordinator Brent Venables lauded as perhaps his best player heading into the 2011 season needed a pick-me-up.

"Last year I got down on myself," Nelson said. "I would say just last year not playing as much, I kinda got down on myself and I had to rebuild it up. And I was able to rebuild it up, and it was just an amazing experience to be able to build it up. I know that Coach Kish saw that just in my eyes just as a player and the student athlete that I am. He saw that I needed a little confidence built up and it happened during winter workouts and I got it back.

"I got my swag back, so it just feels good to be able to get it back. I was down in confidence once upon a time."

Not anymore, however.

And the rest of what is just a four-man group at the current time—Aaron Franklin, Frank Shannon and Eric Striker round it out along with Nelson—has seemed to rally around that.

"As a linebacking corps overall I feel like we're all much closer," Nelson said. "We have a small group, about six guys. It's just very awesome to see how we just come together and how Coach Kish has his defense and the schemes that he has planned for us. It's very exciting. They plan on using more linebackers, and that's an amazing experience.

"Just being a part of this linebacking corps, I expect a lot because Coach Kish expects a lot. And it's just very awesome to be able to see how the transition from last year to this year [has gone] and the improvements that we are making as a linebacking corps as a whole."

Whether OU uses a 4-3, 3-4 or mixes the two, it sounds like linebackers will be more involved and with a more confident Nelson, there's no question that's a positive for this defense.

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