TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Although not at the level of Julio Jones a season ago, Kevin Norwood is emerging as one of the top freshman receivers in the Alabama offense.
The 6-foot-2, 180 newcomer from D’Iberville, Miss., caught three passes for 60 yards in Saturday’s scrimmage. That included a 44-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Thomas Darrah.
Afterward, coach Nick Saban offered cautious praise for Norwood.
“Kevin Norwood has probably showed the most consistency of the young guys — not that he’s any better than the rest of them,” Saban said, “He just has a little more maturity and is able to handle the circumstance that he’s in, trying to learn and managing two-a-days and the heat and everything else, he’s shown the most consistency probably to this point.”
Freshmen are not made available to speak with reporters, but several of his teammates have also taken notice of the player ranked No. 22 among high school senior receivers by rivals.com.
“He doesn’t say a whole lot; he doesn’t talk much,” quarterback Greg McElroy said. “But he took a good interest in studying and understanding the offense. He understood that if he went out there at 7-on-7 and worked hard, he’d have a chance to see the field at some point this year. And he took advantage of his opportunities in the scrimmage so you have to credit him for that. He’s a good, hard-working guy.”
As a high school senior, Norwood caught 64 passes for 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns to go with 10 interceptions.
The improvement among the Alabama wide receivers has been noted by its starting quarterback as well as one of the top cornerbacks.
The scrimmage held Saturday proved how far they’ve progressed, quarterback McElroy said.
“From where we were a year ago at this point to where we are now with our wide receiver depth, it’s absolutely outstanding,” McElroy said. “From a quarterback’s point of view, you see guys getting open all over the field. If I had been a little more accurate, those guy’s numbers would have been a heck of a lot better.”
Cornerback Javier Arenas was impressed most by the run-blocking effort displayed when they weren’t in passing situations.
South Alabama feel
With seven Crimson Tide players listed from Mobile and several more from surrounding communities, the team is taking on a South Alabama feel.
Junior tight end Preston Dial, a UMS-Wright graduate, is a big fan of the gulf coast influence.
“It’s weird, especially now being out there with the 1s and you look out to make sure the wide receiver is off the ball, and it’s the same guy you played with in high school,” Dial said about Brandon Gibson, another UMS-Wright graduate.
But there are also former rivals that need to become teammates too. That includes Phelon Jones, a McGill-Toolen product who transferred to Alabama from LSU in the offseason.
“It’s kinda weird wearing the same color jerseys now,” Dial said.
Up for an award
Three Alabama players landed on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy preseason watchlist Tuesday afternoon.
Linebacker Rolando McClain made the 62-player list along with nose guard Terrence Cody and cornerback Javier Arenas.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy has been awarded to the nation’s top defensive player since 1993. It was named for the All-American lineman from Minnesota who played from 1927-29 before starring for the Chicago Bears in the 1930s.