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Norwood hears halftime cheers

Eric Norwood can hardly go anywhere these days without being recognized.

A week after South Carolina's All-American linebacker was cheered during USC's graduation, Norwood received another ovation Monday when he was honored at halftime of the Gamecocks' basketball game against Furman at the Colonial Life Arena.

Norwood, a senior from Acworth, Ga., recently became the school's first three-time all-conference selection and was the first USC player in 25 years to make the first team of The Associated Press All-American team.

Norwood is the Gamecocks' all-time leader in sacks and tackles for loss, and will play in the Senior Bowl next month in Mobile, Ala.

While commending Norwood on his "outstanding career" at USC, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said Monday there have been no discussions about retiring Norwood's jersey.

"Those are history things," Spurrier said. "I don't think hardly any school does that any more."

USC has not retired a jersey since 1987 when the school set aside Sterling Sharpe's No. 2 jersey following his senior season. Three other USC players have their jerseys retired - George Rogers, Steve Wadiak and Mike Johnson.

Patient Paulk

Linebacker Rodney Paulk and defensive tackle Travian Robertson, both of whom had season-ending knee injuries this season, have been regular visitors at the bowl practices as they continue their rehab.

Paulk, who had surgery in September on his right knee, said he might be held out of spring practice but should be ready for next season. Paulk plans to petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility, though he cannot do so until after the 2009 season.

"I'm going to keep playing 'til the wheels fall off, like I always say," Paulk said. "I'm going to keep on playing. The university's been good to me, so I'm going to continue to be good to the university and come back for that sixth year."

Winter doldrums

A week into the bowl preparations, the Gamecocks' defense hit a lull Monday. Rather than continue to go through the motions, assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson sent the defensive players to strength coach Craig Fitzgerald for extra conditioning.

"They got a little bored out there, I guess. The tempo was just so bad. I think they're tired of doing the same stuff over and over," Johnson said. "We've looked at the same formations, the same defensive calls, the same blocking schemes. Not that we don't need it."

Johnson said the Gamecocks will be fine when they get to Birmingham after a holiday break. "It'll pick up as we get closer to the game, get a little enthusiasm."

No work visa required

Spurrier said he will not hire an offensive line coach until after the Papajohns.com Bowl in January, noting that some of the candidates are coaching in bowl games. Spurrier was asked whether he had narrowed the pool of applicants for the position, which came open last week when Eric Wolford was hired as head coach at Youngstown State.

"Somewhat. It has to be an American," Spurrier said, smiling.

Extra points

Junior receiver Dion LeCorn said he has second-guessed his decision to play this season after breaking his leg on the final play of the spring game.

"It would have been nice to redshirt and have that extra year," said LeCorn, who has four catches for 27 yards in six games. LeCorn will visit a specialist in Charlotte after the Papajohns.com Bowl to determine whether he needs a second surgery. ...

Tailback Brian Maddox is dating the enemy. Madddox's girlfriend, a USC student, grew up in Connecticut and has a number of family members who root for the Huskies.

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