Diamond in the Rough: Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina

Josh NormanSouth Carolina has produced superb athletes over the last few years, especially with the emergence of Coastal Carolina.  The Chanticleers have produced a few major players who are still playing right now in the NFL. Mike Tolbert the bruising running back of the San Diego Chargers, Tyler Thigpen the streaky QB of the Buffalo Bills, and Jerome Simpson who was all over the news for an amazing play where he did a complete flip over a player to help the Cincinnati Bengals get to the end zone are all alumni of Coastal Carolina. 

Josh Norman is starting to get the love he deserves after putting on an amazing performance at the East/West Shrine Game that has NFL scouts amazed by his play. 

Norman was born and raised in Greenwood, South Carolina which is located about 45 minutes from both Columbia, South Carolina the state capitol and Augusta, Georgia.  The 6’0, 192 lbs. safety played his entire high school career at Greenwood high school.  He was named All-State as well as being selected to play in the North-South All-Star Game on the defensive side of the ball. He was great in coverage and has great size to play corner in the league. He could be used as both a Safety and Cornerback in the NFL because of his size and speed.  After being named to the All-Lakeland Region 4A team, he was ready to begin his NCAA career.  Josh was only recruited by Georgia, but after the school told him he had to get certain score on his SAT, he was passed over for a guy they had rated second on their list.

Josh decided to go to Myrtle Beach to get away from Greenwood for a while and began taking a few classes at Horry-Georgetown Technical College.
His brother was playing for Coastal Carolina at the time and Josh was able to work out with his brother and teammates at the Coastal Carolina weight room. Josh tried out to play for the Chanticleers and made the team as a walk on. I was able to catch up with former Wide Receiver of Coastal Carolina Marquel Willis, who now plays for the Green Bay Blizzard in the Professional Indoor Football League.  Marquel was a WR at Coastal when Josh walked on and had great things to say about his former teammate.

“Josh has had his moments as a vocal leader, but he lets his play speak for itself. I think his best attribute is his competitiveness; if he is in a one on one, he is going to battle with the person in front of him on every play, and he showed that ever since his freshman year”.

In 2008, Josh’s freshman year at Coastal Carolina, he contributed and helped solidify the secondary.  He started in 7 of the games but had extensive playing time in all 12 games. Josh finished the season with 35 total tackles with 26 coming solo, 7 pass break ups, and 2 interceptions. Josh was starting his career right, and would only get better as he learned the playbook and the defensive scheme.  Josh was able to get at least one tackle in 11 out of 12 games. Josh was ready to build on his freshman year, and was getting help from his teammates and coaching staff to make him a better player.

After his freshman year, Josh was ready to get back a hold of Georgia, because he was paying to go to school.  Word quickly got out around the campus that he was planning on going to Georgia, and the head coach of Coastal Carolina wouldn’t let that happen. Coach quickly called Josh into his office and had a full scholarship lying on the desk. Josh quickly accepted the offer and was ready to help the Coastal program turn around.
In 2009, Josh exploded for a league leading 8 interceptions, which broke the Big South Conference record. He seemed to really pick up the playbook well, and began to read the offenses much better. He had many accolades this season to include being named third team All-American by the Associated Press, College Sporting News’ “Fabulous Fifty” All-American team, First team All – Big South, Big South Defensive Player of the Week and National Defensive Player of the Week. He finished the year with 43 tackles. His best game was against Gardner-Webb where he had three interceptions. Josh was outstanding his sophomore season and was becoming a student of the game. He quickly learned how to get a better jump on the ball and use his long arms to make a play.

In 2010, Josh was first-team all American in the preseason and although he didn’t have another 8 interception season, he worked more on tackling. He finished the season with 56 tackles in 12 games and only had one interception. His technique didn’t change, but teams began throwing away from him. He practiced getting off the blocks and making plays in the run game. He became a better all-around-player his junior year especially in run support.

In 2011, his senior year Josh was out to break more records. He was closing in on his brother’s record at the school for most interceptions in a career with 11.  Marrio his brother was also the leader in Pass break ups with 23.  Josh broke both of these records and recorded a blocked kick which put him on the record books of Coastal Carolina with the most blocked kicks (4). Josh also showed over his career a steady incline in tackles where he finished with a total of 62.  Norman had 12 Pass break ups and 2 more interceptions to add to his total. He finished his career with 13 interceptions for 72 yards, and 35 passes deflected.

Josh Norman is making a name for himself at the East/West Shrine game because of his abilities to hawk the ball down and make a play. He is getting tons of love from NFL scouts, and he will continue to impress because of his work ethic. Former teammate WR Marquel Willis, who had to line up against Josh summed it up very well, “He is a long, physical corner, who has a great work ethic in the weight room and in the film room, but when it all comes down to it, you cannot teach god given abilities, and Josh has them”.

If you are an NFL football fan, you can only hope that Josh Norman is selected by your team come April, because he is going to give it his all, regardless of the situation. He will definitely be a small school sleeper who could climb the boards immensely if he keeps putting on a performance like he has so far at the Shrine game.  Josh will have a chance to impress again live come February as he was selected to perform at the NFL Scouting Combine.