The Carolina Panthers have signed another 2010 draft pick, defensive end/linebacker Eric Norwood from South Carolina, the team announced Wednesday. Selected in the fourth round (124th overall), Norwood earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors three times and led or tied for the team lead in sacks all four seasons.
Norwood, 6-foot-1 and 241 pounds, played in 51 games with 38 starts for the Gamecocks, making 26 starts at linebacker and 12 at defensive end. A player with tremendous versatility who Panthers head coach John Fox has referred to as a designated pass rusher, he set school records with 29 sacks and 54.5 tackles for loss. Norwood finished his career with 255 tackles, 34 quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and two interceptions in addition to blocking four kicks.
"He's relentless to the ball. He's got a good first step in his pass rush. He's built pretty strong," Fox said. "Even though he might be a little short in stature, he's pretty well put together and he's got extremely good explosion."
As a senior in 2009, Norwood was a first-team All-American by the Associated Press and garnered first-team All-Southeastern Conference recognition. He corralled team highs of seven sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback pressures and two interceptions and finished second on the squad with 81 tackles.
Norwood successfully moved to linebacker from defensive end as a junior in 2008 and proceeded to be a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection, ranking first in the conference with nine sacks. He paced the Gamecocks with 14.5 tackles for loss and nine quarterback pressures and stood second with 75 tackles.
A first-team All-Southeastern Conference choice as a sophomore in 2007, Norwood set a school record with 19.5 tackles for loss to go along with team highs of six sacks and nine quarterback pressures. This followed a freshman season in 2006 when he tied for first on the team with seven sacks and was named first-team Freshman All-American and first-team Freshman All-Southeastern Conference by The Sporting News.
The Panthers have now signed seven of their 10 draft picks. With more than a month remaining before the start of training camp, Carolina's only unsigned draft selections are second-round choice Jimmy Clausen and third rounders Cam Newton and Armanti Edwards.