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Nov. 4, 2009

University of South Carolina senior linebacker Eric Norwood is one of 16 semifinalists named for the 15th annual Chuck Bednarik Award, it was announced today. The Bednarik Award goes to the nation’s Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year.

For the latest information on Norwood, please go to his website

Norwood, a 6-1, 252-pounder from Acworth, Ga., considered taking his chances in the NFL, but he elected to return for his senior season – and what a season it has been. Named a midseason first-team All-American by Phil Steele, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award, one of 16 semifinalists for both the Bednarik Award and the Butkus Award and a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy, Norwood is the SEC’s active leader in both sacks and tackles for loss. A two-time first-team all-SEC pick, Norwood holds the school record with 28.0 career sacks; he passed Gamecock standout Andrew Provence in the win over Ole Miss on Sept. 24 with his 27th career sack. He also has 51.5 tackles for loss, which gives him the all-time lead in that category at South Carolina. He even added an interception return for a touchdown in the game at Georgia on Sept. 12, which prompted ESPN’s Lou Holtz – former Gamecock head coach – to call Norwood “the best defensive player in the country.” It was his third career touchdown.

Norwood leads the SEC with six sacks this season. He is tied for eighth in the league with 8.5 total tackles for loss. He also leads the team with two interceptions. A regular on special teams, Norwood has blocked three kicks this season.

Norwood has played in all 47 games over the past three seasons and has made 34 consecutive starts. He has recorded 228 tackles over his three-plus seasons and was named the Harris Pastides Scholar Athlete Award winner for football at the spring game in April. Last season, Norwood earned All-SEC accolades from the Associated Press, the league’s coaches and Phil Steele’s College Football, and second-team honors from as a junior. All this was after making the conversion from defensive end to linebacker – and he still finished second on the team with 75 tackles.

The announcement of the Bednarik Award will be made during the Home Dept ESPNU College Football Awards Show that will be broadcast on ESPN on Thursday, December 10. Three finalists for each award will be announced on November 23 and a second round of voting will take place at that time.

Voting for the award presented by the Maxwell Football Club will begin on Wednesday, November 4 and close on Sunday, November 22. Eligible voters include Maxwell Football Club members, NCAA Head Football Coaches, Sports information Directors and selected national media.