NU’s Wootton not moving too far away

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Since he was slated as a first-round pick toward the end of the 2008 season, Northwestern defensive end Corey Wootton certainly has to be disappointed that he didn’t go until the fourth round in this year’s NFL Draft.

But Wootton thinks more about his future, and he’s thrilled to be joining the Bears.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity.”

Wootton didn’t complain, and he didn’t express any regret about rushing back from his major knee injury to play for the Wildcats last season. Even though he projected he played at 70 percent, Wootton was still a key part of the defense, particularly down the stretch.

“I feel like I’m 90 to 95 percent,” he said. “Somewhere around there.”

He was hopeful that he would be 100 percent by training camp. If that’s the case, then the Bears potentially got a steal since he was expected — even with his knee injury — to go as high as the second round in this year’s draft.

“I’m thrilled for Corey,” said Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “We obviously have a close relationship with the Bears, and he is joining a terrific organization with some outstanding coaches. Corey’s best football days are still ahead of him.”

One person close to Wootton is thrilled.

“I would love it if he got drafted by the Chicago,” Lori Hackman, Wootton’s mother, told the Sun-Times in February. “We love Chicago.”

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