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July 24, 2009


The University of South Carolina has been picked to finish third in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division in a preseason media poll released by the conference office today. The Gamecocks are expected to finish behind only Florida and Georgia in the SEC East, despite having just one player, Eric Norwood, named to the all-league team.

The Gamecocks tallied 217 points on the 64 ballots to place third behind Florida (a unanimous first with 64 points) and Georgia with 133 points. Tennessee (258), Vanderbilt (317) and Kentucky (355) round out the Eastern Division. The third-place prediction snaps a seven-year string in which Carolina was pegged for fourth place in the SEC East in the media’s preseason poll. In 2001, the Gamecocks were also tabbed for third in the East.

Alabama was the media favorite to win the Western Division. The Crimson Tide tallied 109 points to edge out LSU (145) and Ole Miss (149). Arkansas (245), Auburn (309) and Mississippi State (387) are slated to finish fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

Florida received 63 of the 64 votes to win the SEC title game, while Ole Miss had the lone dissenting vote.

Norwood, a 6-1, 252-pounder from Acworth, Ga., was the lone Gamecock representative on either the all-conference first or second team, as selected by the media. The senior captain has been a first-team All-SEC selection in each of the past two seasons and has recorded 174 tackles in his three seasons for the Garnet & Black. He was also named to the preseason first-team all-conference squad by the league’s coaches. Norwood is Carolina’s all-time leader with 43.0 career tackles for loss and is third on the all-time list in sacks with 22.0 and is the SEC active leader in both categories. He has played in all 38 games over the past three seasons and has made 25 consecutive starts.