"Immediate Impact"

With the big college decision behind him now, New Braunfels linebacker Tom Wort can now focus on his team and making another push towards a state title. He exploded on to the scene after racking up more than 200 tackles as a junior. But what makes Wort the special player that he is? SoonersIllustrated talked with New Braunfels coach Chuck Caniford about Wort's intangibles.

It has been over a month since New Braunfels linebacker Tom Wort gave a verbal commitment to Oklahoma. Now as the New Braunfels team wraps up spring training, Scout.com visits with coach Chuck Caniford to see what makes his star linebacker tick.

"I think the biggest thing that he (Wort) brings to the table is that he elevates the game for everyone around him," Caniford, who has had Wort in his program for a little over year said. "I know that is a statement that is used a lot, but in this case other defenders have to get to the ball in a hurry. If not, Wort will already be there to make the tackle."

And that statement proves to be true as Wort finished the season with over 200 tackles in 14 games. He also had three interceptions (one for touchdown) and four sacks. According to Caniford, Wort will get there and in a hurry.

"They (other teammates) better get to the ball because there is a good chance Wort will already be there on the play," Caniford said. "That is what they have to do if they want to make tackles."

Not bad for an athlete who has not spend much time on the gridiron. After Wort's family moved to Texas from Rhode Island, Caniford knew he had some athletic ability. But, it wasn't until this time last year that Caniford knew he had a "special" one.

And the rest is all history.

"When he first moved in I saw as just another hard-working athlete," Caniford said. "Before coming to Texas, he had not really been in a heavy weight program. Then when we strapped the helmets on, I saw something. He was flying around and making a lot of plays. It was then I knew he would be a good one."

It was obvious the word got out. Caniford said it would be easier for him to name the schools that didn't come by instead those that did. 

"You name them and they were after him," Caniford said. "Offers from coast to coast. From Florida to Boston College to USC, and everyone in between."

But Besides Wort's athletic ability, Caniford said that his passion for the game is what will bring him to unprecedented heights on the next level.

Whether it is watching film on opponents or on him, Wort could easily be called a student of the game.

"His level of passion permeates all over the field and a college coach will see that he is committed to getting better and learning every aspect of a defense," Caniford said. "I mean he has really only been playing this sport for a year and a half. He is always watching film and asking questions so that he can be the best athlete. Of course, he also makes a lot of plays instinctively."

With that said, Wort is working hard this off-season to make sure he is in the best shape possible. And apparently, he is trying to get to Norman a little "Sooner" than expected.

"He is so committed that he is working hard so that he can try and graduate in December," Caniford said. "When he gets to Oklahoma, I think he will bring a lot to the table. Because of his great instincts and passion for the game, he could have an immediate impact."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories