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Friday, August 21, 2009
OU's linebacking depth dealt a blow

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma freshman linebacker Tom Wort's knee injury could have some serious consequences for the Sooners.

Oklahoma coaches have been impressed with Wort, whose speed and natural athleticism made him one of the team's most notable additions at the position in recent years.

And it comes at a position that could be developing into a liability because of depth.

Ryan Reynolds has made a strong recovery from knee surgery after missing the final eight games last season. Reynolds has been hampered with a slight hamstring pull earlier in training camp and has struggled staying away from injuries in the past.

Mike Balogun is a member of the team -- for now. But there's no indication his lawsuit against the NCAA will be successful as he petitions for his final year of eligibility after he was de-certified last week. His status on the team is iffy.

It could mean the Sooners again will switch sophomore Austin Box to back up Reynolds. He started there for four games last season. Box is currently working as the backup at weak-side linebacker behind starter Travis Lewis.

It wasn't a stretch to see Wort immediately contributing on special teams and in the playing rotation. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables has never hesistated using young players in the past. Lewis was the Sooners' top linebacker last season as a redshirt freshman.

The Sooners' linebacking corps looked like one of the team's most imposing strengths before training camp began. But the recent attrition and injuries with Balogun and Wort have contributed  to make it team's biggest current defensive question.