A handful of Penn State football players — including Derrick Williams and Justin King — competed with the Nittany Lion indoor track team over the winter, with the idea it would improve their speed.
Receiver Jordan Norwood, meanwhile, suited up for the Penn State basketball team because
he loves playing hoops. Much to his surprise, however, there was an unintended bonus to hitting the hardwood.
Norwood believes it improved his speed.
It must have, the junior explained. Something with basketball made me feel faster. It might have been just being in a little better shape [in the football off-season]. But I definitely feel a lot faster and coaches and teammates tell me I look faster. I think I can attribute that to playing basketball.
Norwood playing hoops.
Though playing for Ed DeChellis caused him to miss most of the football team's off-season conditioning program, Norwood felt the hoop team's in-season regime helped him stay sharp.
I picked up some lateral-movement skills from basketball, he said.
The bad news for Jordan Norwood the basketball player was that DeChellis' team had a poor season, finishing 11-19 and ending the campaign with a 66-60 loss to Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament March 8. That was the extent of the postseason for PSU.
The goods news for Jordan Norwood the football player was that the early end to the hoops season allowed him to turn his focus quickly back to football, and he believes he did not miss a beat with the sport that is paying for his scholarship.
I was able to work my way back into football, so it wasn't a problem, he explained. As Saturday's Blue-White Game approaches, Norwood says he is completely up to speed on the gridiron.
With veterans like himself, Williams, Deon Butler and Terrell Golden having played a full season with starting quarterback Anthony Morelli, and young receivers like Chris Bell, Brett Brackett and walk-on Graham Zug all stepping up in the spring, Norwood said the passing game is miles ahead of where we were last year.
We're going into the season with confidence in each other and confidence as a group that we'll be able to make plays to push this team to the next level, he added.
Personally, the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder believes he still has to improve his strength and keep working on his speed coming off the football.
I definitely did get faster, Norwood said. I didn't time myself or anything, but I feel faster. Hopefully that will show.
As for moonlighting with the basketball team again, Norwood is leaning toward doing it.
Right now, I'm planning on playing next year, he said. It doesn't feel like it hurt me.
EXTRA POINT: Norwood is the latest Nittany Lion veteran to praise Bell, who saw limited action as a true freshman last season. He was a great receiver, even last year, Norwood said. But he had some things work-ethic wise that a few of us had to take him under our wings and get him straight. He is definitely putting in the work now and it is paying off.