Former USC star linebacker Eric Norwood has signed his rookie contract with the Carolina Panthers. Carolina selected Norwood in the 4th round of the April NFL draft. He is expected to make a significant contribution this season on special teams and as a pass rusher. He could also see more time at linebacker with Thomas Davis sidelined for the season with a knee injury.
Norwood left USC as the school’s all-time sack leader with 29. In my opinion, you can make a case that he was one of the top five defensive players to strap it on for the Garnet and Black. It isn’t too hard to make that point when you look at his impressive stats his ability to make big plays crucial situations. The interception return for a touchdown at Georgia last season or the fumble return against a top 15 Kentucky team two years ago come to mind. Norwood always was around the ball and ready to make a play. More importantly, he showed up every game to play. That wasn’t always the case with some of his teammates.
Although it isn’t just stats that earn Norwood a spot among the best defensive players in USC history. What may have impressed me the most about Norwood is the fact that, unlike so many other Gamecock players before him, he remained committed to the program when he could have bolted early for the money of the NFL. It was important for him to finish what he started and also to earn a degree.
Norwood was a kid that almost didn’t qualify to enroll and ended up graduating on time and in great academic standing. There was never a sniff of trouble from him on or off the field and he was the perfect example of what a college athlete should be.
The details on Norwood’s contract with the Panthers weren’t disclosed but, whatever the Cats are paying him, they are getting one heck of a deal. He will be an asset in Charlotte both on and off the field.