May 1, 2008

Lots of noise around soft-spoken Norwood

Kevin Norwood is a no-frills guy.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound wide receiver from d'Iberville, Miss., is relatively soft-spoken, laid-back and gentle off the field. On the field, he's a graceful deep threat with blazing speed and soft hands.

"I'm just an all-around player," Norwood said earlier this week when asked to evaluate his game. "I just like to play."

The recruiting process, however, isn't proving to be as easy-going as Norwood's personality. Norwood, ranked No. 14 on the Preseason Mississippi Top 25, listed Southern Mississippi as his leader a couple of weeks ago. He reiterated that position on Wednesday. However, three Southeastern Conference programs have entered the mix with scholarship offers in the past few weeks.

"That makes my decision a little harder," Norwood said.

Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Alabama have made scholarship offers to Norwood, and to make matters more difficult, they're all telling him the same thing.

"They're telling me I have a chance to help them win some championships, and they have a great academic program," Norwood said.

Norwood, who is on track to be a full qualifier, has been to Hattiesburg and he's been to Starkville, though he hasn't seen much of the Mississippi State campus other than the Bulldogs' football facilities. He's hoping to change that this summer by attending football camps at all four of his favorites.

"Hopefully I can go to some camps," Norwood said. "My coaches are trying to help me out. I'm going to the USM camp. I want to go to Ole Miss and Alabama."

When he makes it to Oxford and Starkville, Norwood might not say much. But he'll be all eyes and ears. He knows what he's looking for.

"I'm looking for a fast-type offense that likes to throw the ball," Norwood said.

He wants to see more of Alabama, but he liked what he saw of the Crimson Tide last season.

"I watched them play a couple of times on TV last year," Norwood said. "I liked the way they played. I liked their offense. Actually, they had a good defense too. I liked the throwing plays that they had."

The Crimson Tide, Rebels and Bulldogs have some catching-up to do and obstacles to overcome. Norwood said he likes the proximity of Hattiesburg to d'Iberville, and he said his family is pushing him to commit to the Golden Eagles. Still, Norwood said he's nowhere close to a decision, especially after practicing in front of the watchful eyes of Ole Miss assistant Ron Dickerson Jr. and Mississippi State assistant Pat Washington last week.

Even though NCAA rules prohibit coaches from talking to prospects during the May evaluation period, Norwood knows he's becoming a wanted man. Coaches like Dickerson and Washington are having to get the message across in a way that is unfamiliar to them but very much Norwood's style - in other words, with very few words.

"That was funny," Norwood said.

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