With the departure of Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze the Alabama receiving corps was handed a pair of vacancies, but Kevin Norwood has been doing his part to fill one of the voids.
During the 2011 BCS National Championship game, one recurring image was then LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu struggling to lock down his receiver as pass after pass flew over his outstretched finger tips. However, few realized the receiver reeling in those passes was Norwood.
The performance may have been a surprise to some, but it was just a showing that was years in the making.
Alabama’s 2009 signing class was ranked number one in the country, filled with five star prospects Trent Richardson, DJ Fluker, and Nico Johnson. However, nestled inside the class was a tall, lean, six-foot-three receiver from Mississippi.
Rumors of Norwood’s productivity on the practice field circled around Tuscaloosa upon his arrival, but the Tide receiving corps was dominated by the likes of Julio Jones, Hanks, and Maze.
Norwood continued to flash his abilities in practice during his sophomore season, but again was limited in the regular season to just seven catches for 112 yards; again working behind Hanks and Maize.
Then came the national championship game.
Eager to set the tone early, Maze went back to field and a punt. As he weaved between defenders, jetting down the field, looking as if he would take it the distance Alabama fans held their breath. The explosive playmaker pulled up lame, making a bee-line toward the sidelines. Not only would Alabama lose their top return man, but also their top receiver.
Coaches that tell their players to practice the right way because they are only a play away from being called upon should turn on that title game. Norwood, away from the spotlight for three years in Tuscaloosa, worked as hard as anyone behind the scenes and was ready to seize the moment.
On the biggest stage in college football Norwood nearly doubled his production with 4 catches for 78 yards against a man named the best defensive player in the country (Mathieu). While some may feel the performance was a fluke, Norwood has proved otherwise.
Now a veteran in the receiving corps, Norwood is the one leading the way through fall camp. In Alabama’s two scrimmages, he leads all receivers with 5 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Kevin Norwood is not a household name, but if his consistency continues it is only a matter of time until he is.