Former Bama players expectto go inmiddle rounds
By RYAN BLACK
Kevin Norwood is playing the waiting game.
Just like every other NFL draft prospect, he has no idea where life goes from here. If he did, Norwood joked, he'd already have his new team's playbook on hand and started to study it.
But it won't be long until the former Alabama receiver will know the identity of his future employer, as the draft begins Thursday night.
"This is something I've been dreaming of for a long, long time," Norwood said Monday during a tour of Fort Benning. "I've put in a lot of work and a lot of hours and persevered just to get here. It's less than a week away and I'm just real blessed. I'm real excited at the same time. I don't know the emotions I'll have about it (when I get selected)."
AJ McCarron, on the other hand, elected for a more laid-back approach.
"I'm just waiting for it and having fun," Alabama's former quarterback said. "Whatever happens, happens."
He's taking a similarly low-key approach to his draft day plans. Expected to go off the board in either the second or third round, McCarron said he's not planning on a large gathering.
"We're hanging out at my
uncle's house and that's really it," he said. "Just a couple of the family members and we'll go from there."
The two players also spoke to the spring meeting of the Russell-Muscogee Chapter of the University of Alabama Alumni and Friends at Green Island Country Club.
Just a few months ago, it appeared unlikely Norwood would even be drafted at all. Yes, he finished his time with the Crimson Tide with decent numbers -- 81 catches for 1,275 yards and 12 touchdowns -- but played second fiddle to the spectacular Amari Cooper the past two seasons.
In January, things started to change.
He had a strong week at the Senior Bowl and followed it up with a 40-time (4.48) at the combine few saw coming. He topped it off with a standout performance at Alabama's pro day in March.
Now, he's projected as a mid-round pick, with the possibility of creeping into the second round.
"The only (team) I've talked to twice is the (Carolina) Panthers. I think they'll be a good fit," he said.
"But anywhere I go, I think it will be a good fit for me. I'm a smart guy.
"I'm going to learn the offense quickly. I'm going to go there and I'm going to work hard like I've always been doing, because I've got that opportunity to reach my dream and I'm going to make the best of it."
It was a dream that started out as a young fan of the Dallas Cowboys. Norwood recalled watching Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Deion Sanders, the stars of a powerhouse Dallas Cowboys squad that won three Super Bowls in the 1990s.
However, the player he's tried to emulate -- on and off the field -- played for San Francisco: Jerry Rice.
If he can influence others in the same positive manner Rice did, Norwood would consider his pro career a success.
"I've never met him before, but that's on my bucket list," he said. "You just grow up watching those type (of) guys, wanting to get where they're at one day. Being a role model for others is what I want to do with my life."