Photo: Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Eric Norwood inducted into USC Athletics Hall of Fame

It’s been less than a decade since Eric Norwood last took the field at Williams-Brice Stadium, but the defensive end turned linebacker has already gotten a chance to reflect on his accomplishments.

Norwood, who played with the Gamecocks from 2006-09, was inducted into the South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame 2017 class on Thursday. He and seven other athletes, including Chuck Allen, Larry Davis, Jamar Nesbit, Bill Currier, Randy Martz, Tricia Popowski and Jennifer Brunelli, were honored at the Hall of Fame dinner in the Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium.

“It feels crazy,” Norwood said. “I remember when I got the call ... it completely caught me off guard. It was like I got a scholarship all over again.”

During his senior season, Norwood was named a first-team All-American in 2009 by both the Associated Press and the Walter Camp Foundation as an outside linebacker. He holds the South Carolina record for career tackles for loss with 55 and sacks with 29.

As one of the most decorated players in SEC history, Norwood was selected in the fourth round, 124th overall of the 2010 NFL Draft playing by the Carolina Panthers. He played with the Panthers from 2010 to 2011 before moving on to play in the United Football League, Arena Football League and Canadian Football League for a combined five years.

Norwood viewed his time at USC as a stepping stone for his career.

“From the time I got here, I got support academically from the tutors and the academic staff we had,” Norwood said. “They just continued to work with us, and our coaches worked with us on and off the field, so just like being here, it’s always been helpful for me. Now, every step that I’ve taken since I’ve left here, playing in the NFL, playing in Canada and various other leagues, it’s prepared me to be the man I am and made me the man I am.”

During his time with the Gamecocks, Norwood was not only known for his electric defense on the field, but also for his vocal leadership qualities off the field. He served as a team captain as a junior and senior in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Norwood was a celebrity starter during Saturday’s football game against Louisiana Tech. He hyped up the crowd by leading the “Game! Cocks!” chant before kickoff.

While he currently resides in Georgia, Norwood said he was happy to be back.

“It’s always special to me. When I drive past it, going to Charlotte or Rock Hill or something, it’s home,” Norwood said. “It’s going to be home eventually ... I’m happy to be here. They treat me great, the fans, everybody in Gamecock nation.”

What’s one of the biggest things Norwood misses about being a student at USC?

“I’d probably say Chicken Finger Wednesdays at the Russell House,” Norwood said. “That’s always a memory for me.”

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