Three times, he was denied admission to South Carolina. Finally, with some persuading from then-defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix to the school's admissions department, Norwood was allowed entry into the school and the football program. He has said he graduated from high school with a 1.8 grade point average, though his GPA in his core classes was a little better at 2.3
Lest you think Norwood became just another dumb jock wasting space in the lecture hall — assuming he bothered to show up — Norwood's story takes a dramatic turn from the expected. He earned his degree in criminal justice in December. It took him just three-and-a-half years, earning entry onto the Dean's List several times along the way.
"Once I got here, I just applied myself," he told Packer Report on Tuesday. "I knew I was capable."
His intended trip to graduate school will have to wait. As one of the greatest defenders in South Carolina history, Norwood figures to be selected in the second or third round of the draft on Friday. If the Packers are undecided about the long-term starting potential of Brad Jones, Norwood would be a great fit at the end of the second round.
Norwood, who said he talked to the Packers a "couple of times," holds the school records for sacks (29) and tackles for losses (54.5). He led the team in sacks all four seasons, posting seven as a senior to go with 11 tackles for losses, a career-high 81 tackles, two interceptions and three blocked kicks.
"It's a little bit of both, speed and football IQ," he said. "Just watching film, seeing how the offensive linemen set, seeing if you're going to get double teamed. Then I had to beat the double team, beat the triple team."
Starting with being a Freshman All-American and continuing through all-SEC selections as a sophomore, junior and senior, Norwood has seen his fair share of double- and triple-team blocks.
"Too many!" he said.
Unlike most of this deep group of hybrid defensive ends/linebackers, in which coaches and scouts will have to project a collegiate defensive end to playing outside linebacker, the Packers will be able to turn on the film and watch Norwood playing linebacker.
"I played the 3-4 my sophomore year so it's no problem," he said. "I'm familiar with every scheme that's been around. It definitely gives me an advantage. A lot of these guys are trying to convert. I've already converted and have been productive at it."
About the only knock on Norwood is his height. At a whisker short of 6-foot-1 (and 245 pounds), he lacks the frame that's desired to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. Norwood shrugs off those concerns with the ease that he shrugs off a chip-blocking running back, saying that no teams have even mentioned that so-called deficiency.
"If I was 5-11 or something, that would be a little different," Norwood said. "But I'm 6-1 — there's a lot of guys in the league that are 6-1 and play linebacker."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.