May 14, 2010

Baylor adds a talented receiver to the mix

When the 2010 class was all wrapped for the Baylor staff earlier this year, it was the first head coach Art Briles had ever been a part of where his team actually undersigned with only 23 players. With the surprise addition of Waco's own, Levi Norwood, though, the class is one step closer to a full slate.

"I had committed and signed with Penn State," Norwood said. "The past couple months I've been going through some family issues and personal issues, though, and I decided it was best to stay at home and play for Baylor."

"I really appreciate the fact that Joe Paterno and the rest of the Penn State staff was understanding about what I was going through and allowed me to go through with my release."

The Norwood story is an interesting one. The son of current Baylor defensive coordinator, Brian Norwood, the Waco Midway standout sat out his junior season to concentrate on basketball after his father left his assistant coach position in Happy Valley to take over the defense at Baylor. As a result of his hiatus from the sport, the talented wide out went somewhat under the radar when he finally returned to the gridiron.

"That year I was concentrating on basketball," said Levi, the younger brother of former George Mason Guard, Gabe Norwood. "After watching how far Midway went in the playoffs, though, I really wanted to get back and play [football]."

Before returning to the field for his senior season, Norwood attended an official camp at Penn State and impressed the Nittany Lion staff enough to be offered his first scholarship on the spot from the Big 10 powerhouse - the same staff that had taken a waiver on Levi's other brother, Jordan, who went on to essentially rewrite the Penn State receiving record books during his time there.

"Neither of us were highly recruited coming out," said Levi of him and his former two star recruit brother, Jordan. "We're kind of in the same boat as far as that goes. My two offers ended up being from Penn State and Baylor, and I got some letters from other schools, of course. When I committed to Penn State, though, everything pretty much stopped."

Due to his time living near Penn State, the three star wide receiver had initially looked forward with reuniting with many of his childhood friends and teammates in the area. Since that time, though, Norwood weighed the benefits of staying and playing for Big 12 power, Baylor, and ultimately chose to stay at home.

"I eventually started growing towards Baylor," Norwood said. "Football wise, the coaching staff is all very good family friends of ours that we have known for a long time, and the practices are very upbeat and high tempo. It just seems like a fun and competitive atmosphere."

Coming in, the youngest Norwood will join one of the deepest young Baylor wide receiving corps in recent memory, including his friend and former rival, incoming freshman Eddie Johnson.

"Eddie played for a team in our district in football and track. We're good friends. I might end up rooming with him," Norwood said. "Baylor uses a lot of receivers, which will definitely be good for me. I think I will fit in well with how they run things."

When asked whether or not growing up in such a sports oriented household under father and current Baylor defensive coordinator, Brian Norwood, Levi acknowledged that it's been a blessing for him in learning what the college game is a all about.

"My dad played as a defensive back at Hawaii, and of course my brother played at Penn State," Norwood said. "It has definitely helped me. My dad knows more about defense and defensive backs, but he knows people who he can talk to and give me drills to work on my own to get better."

"With Jordan, he had to greyshirt at Penn State, which might have been the route I would end up taking if I had stayed there," Norwood said. "If he had a secret, it was just working hard - he was always working harder than most people."

"I think I have those same qualities, " Levi added. "I definitely make sure to always work hard, and our style of play is almost identical. By that, I mean we're quick and not at all scared to go across the middle to catch a ball. We also both make sure to run good, clean routes."

At 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, Levi comes in close to half a foot taller than his brother when he came in at Penn State, but acknowledged the fact that he is going to have to gain some weight in order to be an elite player at the next level.

"I would agree with what people say about me needing to gain some weight and get stronger," Levi said. "I've gone and watched Coach Kaz workout the players and he knows what he is doing and what he is talking about as far eating right and everything goes. It's going to be an intense time working out, but a good one. He's a cool guy to be around."

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