South Carolina's Norwood makes the grade

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

HOOVER, Ala. -- South Carolina outside linebacker Eric Norwood is the SEC's active leader in career sacks (22) and career tackles for loss (43).

He's also a success story in the classroom.

Norwood, a two-time All-SEC selection, is scheduled to graduate in December with a degree in criminal justice. That's after being denied admission three times to South Carolina coming out of high school before finally getting in.

He's made the Dean's list several times, carries a 2.9 GPA and will graduate in three and a half years.

In high school, his GPA dipped to a 1.6. He got it up to a 2.0 and was barely able to squeak into South Carolina. Other schools, such as Georgia, backed off Norwood.

The Gamecocks stood by his side.

"Everything happens for a reason," Norwood said. "Some guys have to mess up before they get it right."

Norwood, who considered turning pro last season, said he plans to play around 252 pounds this season. He said reports that he played around 265 or 270 last year were exaggerated.

"I was 256," said Norwood, who conceded that he shot up around 280 during the summer when he was still playing defensive end.