RAMSEUR — Eastern Randolph High School lineman Jani Norwood will be headed to Chapel Hill in January as an early enrollee to become acquainted with school and football at the Division I level.
But there’s still plenty of football remaining at the high school level as the senior leads the Wildcats into the Piedmont Athletic Conference season beginning Friday and then hopefully a long run in the state 1-A playoffs.
And then there’s the Shrine Bowl. Norwood was selected to participate in the annual all-star event, which features top seniors from North Carolina against top seniors from South Carolina. The game will be played Dec. 16 in Spartanburg, S.C.
“I was so happy to be selected, all my work is paying off,” said the 6-foot-4, 280-pounder. “It’s a great honor.”
Norwood is finishing a very successful four-year career at ERHS.
“He is such a great kid who works extremely hard,” ER football coach Burton Cates said. “The thing about Jani I will never forget is his freshman year, the very first night of contact. I told our coaches that Cat is really special and he was going to be really good. I got one right. He caught our eyes the first night of contact.”
Norwood is not only the only Randolph County player to be invited to the Shrine Bowl but the only player from either the PAC or Mid-Piedmont Conference to be invited.
“You like to see a good person receive a lot of good things and he deserves every good thing that he gets,” Cates said.
Norwood said he’ll have fond memories of his time as a Wildcat.
“My coaches have worked with me all four years since I got here that summer,” Norwood said. “When I got here, I was already working with the other linemen instead of other freshmen.”
Norwood said leaving early and becoming acquainted with college routines, both in the classroom and on the football field, will be beneficial.
“I could have stayed the rest of my senior year, but if I played basketball, I was risking getting injured and I feel this is best for me,” Norwood said.
But before he puts on the Carolina blue jersey, there’s still plenty of work to do while wearing the green and gold.