A Salute To The 2013 Alabama Seniors: Kevin Norwood

Scott Halleran

Kevin Norwood is a solid and consistent wide receiver who seems to have an uncanny knack for coming through in the biggest moments of the biggest games.

Kevin Norwood arrived in Tuscaloosa as part of Alabama's 2009 recruiting. He is from D'Iberville, Mississippi, and was recruited by Alabama's former defensive line coach, Bo Davis, because of his connections in Mississippi. Norwood was a four star (5.9) prospect according to Rivals, and the twenty second best wide receiver in the country. He was also the fifth rated player in Mississippi. Here's Norwood giving an interview only a few days before he committed to the Tide.

After redshirting in 2009, Norwood caught his first pass of his college career in the second game of the 2010 season, at home against Penn State. It was a 36 yard catch and run, that went for a touchdown.

After such a promising start, Norwood didn't contribute much the rest of the season. He made an appearance in all thirteen games, but didn't record another catch until the second to last game of the regular season, against Georgia State, where he hauled in 2 receptions for 20 yards.

Norwood saw more playing time as a redshirt sophomore, but still didn't contribute much in the way of receptions. During the regular season he caught 7 passes for 112 yards. 60 of those yards came on 2 receptions against Mississippi State, both on the first play of drives, the latter of which helping to set up an important field goal for the Tide.

But when people think about Kevin Norwood and the 2011 season, they immediately think of the BCS National Championship Game against LSU. In all likelihood Norwood was in line for another game of inconsistent playing time and few targets, but that all changed when Marquis Maze got hurt on a punt return in the first quarter. Suddenly the Tide's top receiver was sidelined for the rest of the night, and against an LSU defense stacking the box and daring AJ McCarron and the Tide offense to beat them through the air, someone else would need to step up. Norwood was that guy, hauling in 4 receptions for 78 yards, leading all Alabama receivers in yardage.

Norwood, lined up in the slot to the right, caught his first pass of the night on the final play of the first quarter on a corner route. He caught the pass while leaping over Tyrann Mathieu, and getting one foot down before falling out of bounds.

Later he hauled in a 20 yard pass over the middle and an 8 yard pass on the right sideline, on Alabama's final drive of the first half, to help set up their third field goal of the night.

Then, in the third quarter, Norwood made another tremendous catch on a corner route, this one of the 'over the shoulder' variety. The play went for 24 yards.

Of all the great moments in Norwood's career, these four catches in the National Championship Game will probably be remembered the most fondly, both due to the big stage and his relative obscurity at the time.

Going into the 2012 season, with Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks, and Brandon Gibson having graduated, Norwood seemed poised to assume a large role in the offense, which is exactly what happened. Norwood started 11 games in 2012, appearing in 13, and totaled 461 yards on 29 receptions, to go along with 4 touchdowns.

Once again, the high point of his season came in the LSU game, this one in Baton Rouge. With Alabama down by 3 and less than 2 minutes to go, Norwood caught passes on 3 consecutive plays, helping to set up TJ Yeldon's game winning touchdown. Here's that final drive, in its entirety.

Norwood followed that up with a big performance in the Iron Bowl, hauling in 5 receptions for 65 and 2 touchdowns, the latter of which on a very nice 'over the shoulder' grab for the Tide's final touchdown of the day.

Then, playing in his second National Championship Game, Norwood grabbed 3 passes for 66 yards, including a 29 yard reception on the Tide's second play of the game, that helped kick off their first scoring drive. He was Alabama's second leading receiver that night, capping off a season in which he provided AJ McCarron with a dependable second option, and helping lead his team to their second consecutive championship.

In 2013, as a redshirt senior in a crowded wide receiver corp, Norwood is having his finest season yet. To date he has 29 receptions for a 461 yards, to go along with 5 touchdowns. The receptions are tied for a career high, and the yards and touchdowns are both career highs.

In Alabama's second game of the season, a shootout against Texas A&M, Norwood had 3 catches for 52 yards. On Alabama's second drive, with the Tide already trailing 14-0, Norwood caught a touchdown pass on a perfect back shoulder throw from McCarron, swinging the momentum in the Tide's favor for the first time.

Against Kentucky he scored a touchdown and also had this great catch, against double coverage, to set up another Alabama touchdown.

Against Tennessee he had the best statistical game of his career, hauling in 6 receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. It was his first and, to date, only 100 yard receiving game in his career. The highlight of the day was this great catch by Norwood.

He also added touchdowns in Alabama's two most recent games, against LSU and Mississippi State. The first on a corner route ...

... and the second on a back shoulder throw.

Norwood's two best attributes are his catch radius and ability to high point the football, as evidenced by his great catches on back shoulder throws and corner routes. He also has deceptively good speed and very good hands, to go along with consistently strong route running. He's not a spectacular player and he certainly won't be a first or second day draft selection, but there's a decent possibility that he goes in the later rounds and carve out a nice niche for himself as a solid third wide receiver in the NFL.

But first things first ... Norwood still has at least three, and hopefully four games remaining with Alabama. Let's hope he finishes the season strong and the last moments of his college career involve a crystal football.

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