Dave Berk and I watched Norwell play in person in the state title games of both 2007 and 2008. Neither of us could have been more impressed, and we both pushed for Norwell's five-star ranking. The best part about Norwell is that despite how good he is right now, there is an extremely high ceiling to his game, and the sky is the limit to his potential.
The improvement Norwell showed between his sophomore and junior seasons was tremendous, and spoke volumes about his work ethic. Norwell was an extremely talented player as a sophomore, but as a junior he was both talented and dominant. I definitely feel cheated in not being able to see Norwell finish the deal as a senior, but that doesn't change the fact that he is one of the jewels of the 2010 Ohio State recruiting class.
PROJECTED POSITION AT OHIO STATE: Offensive tackle, but is versatile enough to play any spot on the offensive line.
WHAT HIS HIGH SCHOOL COACH SAYS ABOUT HIM: "He would've had offers from everybody in the country by now," head coach Jeff Geisting said of his young star. "I think he's the best lineman in Ohio. I'm confident he would have had offers from the SEC, the ACC, all the Big Ten schools, everybody."
Giesting said he envisions Norwell remaining at tackle when he gets to OSU. "I think so," he said. "He's tall and rangy and he runs fairly well. Like all tackles in college, he'll have trouble with extremely athletic, fast guys coming around the edge like they all do, but he's a kid that once he gets his hands on you he can finish you."
STRENGTHS: Norwell is an athlete playing on the offensive line, not a big kid trying to learn to be more athletic, and there is a difference. His strength is impressive for a kid that has not come close to maximizing his size. He is a player that will play in the 290-300-pound range, and it's the ability to add that much weight to an athletic player that has people excited about Norwell. He is a natural knee-bender and has a great punch off the snap. To complete the package, this is a player that seems to really enjoy hitting people and loves the physical part of being an offensive lineman. If that trait is lacking, it's hard to overcome with just athleticism and strength. Norwell fits the profile of the highly-rated offensive linemen Ohio State has brought in lately, names like Mike Brewster, J. B. Shugarts, Mike Adams and Marcus Hall.
WHAT TO WORK ON: Like all young players, Norwell needs to adjust his game to a level of competition he has not seen yet. It is not uncommon to see even highly-rated offensive linemen struggle as true freshmen, and Brewster, Adams, Shugarts and Hall can attest to that. Norwell needs to add bulk and strength, and that's not going to be difficult given his frame. Norwell already starts out at a high level, and where he ends up will depend upon how much work he puts in.
INSTANT IMPACT: Norwell probably would benefit from a redshirt year, to gain strength and be completely healed from his injury, but he might be too good to sit out. Brewster, Shugarts, Adams and Hall all played as true freshmen, and while the offensive line depth at Ohio State is the best it's been in years, Norwell could see himself in the regular rotation. It would seem to be a matter of when, not if, Norwell becomes a star at Ohio State. Norwell projects as a three-year starter at Ohio State, and it's just a question of when that run begins.