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2018 Athlete Joseph Norwood No Longer Part of Vols’ Class

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

In the days leading up to Jeremy Pruitt’s first National Signing Day as Tennessee’s head coach, he and his staff of talented  recruiters were scouring the nation for diamonds in the rough, trying to quickly make up for arriving at Tennessee with only weeks to cobble together an inaugural class.

One of those last-minute additions was Joseph Norwood, a standout defensive back from Chattanooga Brainerd. In spite of playing only one year of defensive back, Norwood looked like a fearless, ferocious tackler on film, and snatching him up as a last second addition appeared to be a solid move for the new Vols coaches.

But now according to multiple sources, along with Norwood’s twitter profile, he’s no longer part of Tennessee’s 2018 class.

As Tennessee’s affiliate site first reported, Norwood is heading to MTSU instead of Tennessee for his collegiate career. No clear reasoning has been given for the move, but Norwood himself has also updated his Twitter profile to reflect the change.

Norwood’s impressive natural ability on film was balanced by his visibly raw technique and instincts, which somewhat speaks to why he only held offers from smaller schools such as MTSU, Coastal Carolina, and Chattanooga. Players like Norwood are development projects, and often end in high investment and paltry returns. The previous Tennessee staff were occasionally strong recruiters but were very poor player developers (outside of Robert Gillespie’s consistently nasty running back room). So development projects like Norwood weren’t always viable options under the previous staff.

But given the circumstances under which Pruitt took over, he and his staff had little choice. And it appeared as though Norwood was a solid find.

Tennessee continuing to aggressively court graduate transfer players for the 2018 class makes this pivot away from Norwood, who signed no LOI but was set to arrive at Knoxville as a “blue shirt” in the Fall, fairly unsurprising. But the new Tennessee coaching regime’s resume as seasoned player developers made Norwood’s talent vs rough edges compelling.  Based on the amount of time Pruitt is spending with the defensive backs this spring so far, Norwood might’ve at least gotten the technical information to capitalize on his talent and turn his physical ferocity loose on special teams.

The value of seasoned, field-ready transfers simply makes more sense for Tennessee’s current roster situation, and that clearly is Tennessee’s priority. So heading to MTSU where he will certainly have more immediate impact opportunities, is a disappointing but logical conclusion for Norwood’s future.

The Vols have brought on grad transfers at multiple positions this offseason so far and also added a late commitment from a 2018 junior college cornerback in Kenneth George Jr. from Trinity Valley in Texas. Tennessee has added Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst, Michigan State running back Madre London, and walk-on Michigan kicker Ryan Tice as graduate transfers as well.

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