It's Official: Norwood to Return

University of South Carolina junior linebacker Eric Norwood has decided to return to the Gamecock football program for his senior season, he announced today.

Norwood, a 6-1, 253-pounder from Acworth, Ga., was a consensus first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection in 2008 after finishing second on the squad with 75 tackles, including a team-leading 14.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks. He also led the team with nine quarterback hurries, while recovering two fumbles and forcing another. After the regular season, he led the SEC in sacks and was fourth in tackles for loss.

"I've been thinking it over and, after sitting down with my family, I have decided it would be best for me to return to South Carolina for another year," said Norwood. "Coming back for my senior year will not only improve my NFL draft status but will also help the team out. I will also be able to finish up my degree in December," added Norwood. Norwood is working towards a bachelor's degree in criminal justice with a minor in psychology.

"We are certainly pleased that Eric Norwood has thought his situation out thoroughly and will be returning to South Carolina," said head coach Steve Spurrier. "He has made a smart decision for himself and a good decision for the football team. He has done his research and is doing what in the long run is best for him. We are pleased that he will be back."

Norwood, a 2007 first-team All-SEC selection by the SEC coaches and a 2006 Freshman All-American, is South Carolina's all-time leader with 43.0 career tackles for loss and is third on the school's all-time list in sacks with 22.0. He is the SEC active leader in both categories. He has played in all 38 games over the past three seasons, making 25 consecutive starts for the Gamecocks.

Norwood helped the Gamecocks to a 7-6 record in 2008, including a 4-4 mark in the SEC. After the regular season, Carolina ranked 11th in the nation in total defense, allowing an average of 288.9 yards per game.

Norwood was a 2008 Lott Trophy quarterfinalist and was on the preseason Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski watch lists. He also was recognized on the 2008 SEC's Good Works Team.

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