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Dec. 8, 2009

University of South Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood became the first player in school history to earn three straight first-team all-league honors when he was named a first-team All-SEC selection according to the league’s 12 coaches, as announced Tuesday. Defensive end Cliff Matthews was the only other Gamecock who earned recognition by the SEC coaches, earning second team honors.

Norwood, a 6-1, 252-pound senior from Acworth, Ga., was also named a first-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press on Monday. Norwood is tied for third in the SEC with 7.0 sacks this season. He is tied for eighth in the league with 11.5 total tackles for loss. He also leads the team with two interceptions, has recovered a fumble, forced a fumble, leads the team with 11 quarterback hurries and has blocked three kicks. He is the school’s all-time leader in career sacks (29.0) and tackles for loss (54.5) and was one of five finalists for the Butkus Award, which recognizes the nation’s top linebacker.

Matthews, a 6-4, 249-pound junior from Cheraw, S.C., was one of four captains on this year’s squad. He registered 44 tackles including 32 solo stops. Matthews was second on the team with 10.0 tackles for loss and tied for the team lead and ranked third in the SEC with 7.0 sacks. He also ranked second in the SEC with three fumbles forced and tied for second in the league with three fumble recoveries. He had a pair of pass break ups and a quarterback hurry and logged a season-high eight tackles against Vanderbilt. He was an honorable mention All-SEC selection by the Associated Press.