Other than a Favre-Crusher, Who is the Bears Corey Wootton?



Before the Chicago Bears utterly demolished the Minnesota Vikings Monday night in the Ice World of Hoth that was TCF Bank Stadium, Chicago rookie defensive lineman Corey Wootton was pretty much an obscurity to NFL fans.

After Wootton slammed Brett Favre to the turf, and ended the 41-year-old QB’s night (and possible career) he instantly became much closer to one day becoming a household name.

So who is this guy with four whole career tackles in just four career games?

Well, before he started playing professional ball in my hometown, and before he registered his first career sack on the game’s most legendary quarterback, I covered the last two years of his college football career at Northwestern University pretty extensively. So here’s the skinny on the 4th round (109st overall) draft pick:

“Coreysaurus” Wootton also entered his final season of college football on the watch lists for the Hendricks, Bednarik, Nagurski, Lott and Lombardi Trophy. The 6’7” Wootton explained to me how he got that moniker:

“I got dubbed that nickname from a teammate of mine that just graduated, Todd Dockery cuz of my long neck. I used to be real thin when I was a freshman. Since then he’s always called me “Coreysaurus.”

When he was in college I also asked Wootton about his height affecting his game:

“It works to my advantage having a long wingspan, the height, being able to get my hands into the passing lanes, leverage and separation from people. But at the same time it can be a disadvantage. You’re more of a target o get cut {blocked underneath by opponents} things of that nature,” he stated.

After his junior season, he was voted first-team All-Big Ten by conference coaches and the Northwestern Wildcats’ Most Valuable Player. For the second season in his career, he recorded a statistic in every major defensive category (tackles, TFL’s, sacks, pass deflections, interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, QB hurries and blocked kicks). The stud defensive end was a key player for the Cats for four years, and one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the program’s history. He was a late first/early second NFL Draft prospect until blowing out his in knee in the 2008 Alamo Bowl.

The injury was so serious that he wasn’t really even close to being himself until mid-season 2009, and the drop-off in his numbers during ’09 severely hurt his draft stock.

Moving forward, I asked Corey at his final Big Ten Media Day who he thought the best player comparison for his game would be:

“It would be cool if they said the next Julius Peppers. He’s a tremendous player, a tremendous athlete, we have kind of similar size. One day I hope to even touch the waters of what he is, a truly tremendous a player,” Corey answered.

I then mentioned how rare it was for a defensive player to receive Heisman votes, and Peppers actually finished in the top 10 in 2001 voting.

“It’s expected for mostly offensive players, quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs to get those awards, but when you get recognized for that, especially at defensive end, a position that’s not as highly publicized as other positions, it’s a great honor and it shows what a legacy he left. Not only at North Carolina, but in college football,” He replied.

Here’s some video I shot from the field level during Wootton’s final college home game. On this play he sacks Wisconsin Badgers QB Scott Tolzien (who won the Unitas award this year). Video comes completes with Wildcat Rar.

It’s true that DEs don’t often get the pub, but perhaps that’s changing?

“Defensive ends get publicized more than interior linemen and offensive lineman probably because they’re the pretty version of a lineman. You stand up sometimes, you’re on the edge. They’re a little leaner. So they’re publicized, but not as much as linebackers and defensive backs. The game has changed so much over recent years. Julius Peppers was a freak of nature back then and now you’re seeing guys who have tremendous size and athleticism everywhere,” Wooton said.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com

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