West Virginia safeties coach and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning came to Morgantown with a plethora of safeties on the roster. Then, Derrek Pitts and All-Big 12 safety Kenny Robinson hit the transfer portal in late spring.
That prompted the coaching staff to move Josh Norwood from corner to cat safety during summer workouts. As a reference, the cat safety is somewhat like the bandit safety under Tony Gibson’s 3-3-5 defense. The most notable bandit safety, Karl Joseph.
Josh Norwood is not that type of player nor is he a similar build, but he is physical. He showed it during the 2018 season, jamming receivers at the line and shortening their routes. In the open practice Neal Brown hosted during fan day, Norwood continued to prove he can jam a receiver in press coverage and harass them down the field.
“At Valdosta (High School) his coach (Alan) Rodemacker calls him a dog.” Said Koenning. “. A dog means that he gets after you. He practices hard, he goes after it. Josh has all those attributes. When you think of that, you don’t think of corner, you think of a safety. Is he going to be Ronnie Lott? No, but I think he’s going to be able to help us in coverage skills. If you look at the teams in our conference, most of them are playing with corner types at safety anyway. There’s not a bunch of ‘hammer guy’s’. He’s going to have to help us. We’re going to use him; we’re going to use what he does best a lot. We’re going to put him in those positions. He’s got a lot of growing pains as far as learning some techniques and stuff.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Bryce Wheaton gave examples why Norwood is a dog.
“He’s a dog in everything he does.” Stated Wheaton. “He attacks every workout. He’s pushing everybody to get better. You can’t come out there and try to loaf around practice or anything because Norwood is coming full speed, so you got to match his energy or he’s going to dog you.
Wide Receiver TJ Simmons lines up across Norwood everyday in practice and explains what makes Josh special.
“He’s relentless.” Said Simmons. “No matter what he’s doing, from one on one’s to filling the hole, making the play in the box. He’s relentless and he doesn’t stop. That’s one guy I love to compete with because when that rep is going, he’s going to give you everything he’s got and after the rep is over and if you beat him, he’s going to come up to you and ask for tips like ‘What happened on this? What was you looking at as far as me?’”
You can also find Norwood on the practice field giving receivers advice on creating separation from a defensive back.
West Virginia is still thin at safety, but having Josh Norwood back there will significantly help fill a very large void.
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