USC linebacker Eric Norwood has been selected to the 2009 SEC Coaches Pre-Season first-team squad, the SEC announced today. Norwood was the lone Gamecock represented on the first two squads. South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia, defensive back Chris Culliver and punter Spencer Lanning were third team selections.
Norwood, a 6-1, 252-pound senior from Acworth, Ga., has been a first-team All-SEC selection in each of the past two seasons. He has recorded 174 tackles in his three seasons for the Garnet & Black. Norwood is Carolina's all-time leader with 43.0 career tackles for loss and is third on the all-time list in sacks with 22.0 and is the SEC active leader in both categories. He has played in all 38 games over the past three seasons and has made 25 consecutive starts.
Garcia, a 6-2, 219-pound sophomore from Lutz, Fla. saw action in eight games in 2008, making three starts. He completed 53.3 percent of his passes for 832 yards with six touchdowns. He also is the Gamecocks' top returning rusher after carrying 70 times for 198 yards a season ago.
Culliver, a 6-0, 190-pound junior from Garner, N.C., logged 60 tackles last season in his first campaign at the free safety position after playing wide receiver as a true freshman in 2007. He was credited with three interceptions, including a pair in a win over Kentucky.
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Lanning, a 5-11, 188-pound junior from Rock Hill, S.C., averaged 42.1 yards per punt in his first stint as the Gamecocks' punter in 2008, tying for fifth in the SEC and 28th in the nation. Thirteen of his 48 punts were inside the 20. He punted eight times for a 45.0-yard average in the win over Tennessee with two of the kicks traveling 50+ yards and three inside the 20, earning SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
The Gamecocks begin the 2009 season on Thursday, September 3, when they travel to Raleigh to face the NC State Wolfpack in a nationally-televised ESPN contest.