Most Important Buckeyes: No. 16
By Ken Pryor
While it may be difficult to justify Andrew Norwell as the most valuable player on the Ohio State roster, one word that definitely sums him up would be INVALUABLE.
Photo by Jim Davidson
In order to get a feel for Norwell’s true contribution to the Buckeyes this year, let’s first look at some historical context. Ohio State had already experienced recruiting let downs in the form of Seantrel Henderson, Matt James, Kyle Kalis and Aundrey Walker. Norwell, on the other hand, knew from day one he wanted to be a Buckeye and he is just what the doctor ordered for what was ailing the offensive line unit.
The junior out of Cincinnati Anderson isn’t a household name at Ohio State just yet, but he’s well on his way. The Buckeyes’ left guard earned all-conference honors this season and he comes in at No. 16 on our postseason countdown of the 20 Most Important Buckeyes to a 12-0 season.
What Made Him Important?
Norwell earned significant playing time as a freshman. He followed that performance by filling in admirably the following year during Mike Adams’ suspension. Upon Adams’ return, Norwell continued to garner playing time at left guard on the offensive line.
Last season Luke Fickell was quoted saying that Ohio State coaches were expecting big things from Norwell and the big man has not disappointed. This 2012 season has ended with Andrew Norwell having been named by the media to the first team all-Big Ten team. His no-nonsense blue-collar approach to the game has afforded him recognition that he richly deserves.
Norwell is a man of few words, at least in front of the media. He’s not a self-promoter, but he is the type of player that just gets his job done. And he does it with a healthy helping of nasty.
The words often used to describe him are “nasty,” “mean,” “rough,” “tough” and “blue-collar.” Former OSU right tackle J.B. Shugarts stated that Norwell was a "pretty laid-back guy, but you don't want to make him mad, because he can get pretty rough on you.”
A willingness to do the dirty work, in conjunction with raw talent, is crucial to becoming an outstanding offensive lineman in college. Andrew Norwell possesses such willingness and tools. The young man has the physical tools as well as a strong lean frame that many coaches like to see on their offensive linemen.
What Would The Buckeyes Have Done Without Him?
When discussing the Ohio State line, Norwell may very well be the most underhyped and underappreciated player on the entire unit. He may well also be the best player on the unit. We often debate the merits of Reid Fragel moving from tight end to right tackle. Although Fragel played very well, he was always looking over his shoulder for the young freshman phenom Taylor Decker.
We have discussed the way Corey Linsley held down the line as the anchor, the man calling the signals from the center position. We also discussed the myriad high snaps on his part.
We’ve talked about how Marcus Hall was beaten by his man and how badly Jack Mewhort dominated his man, but rarely, if ever, was Andrew Norwell mentioned in a good manner or bad.
An on-going theme dating back to his high school days when he repeatedly took a back seat in recruiting conversations to players like Matt James (RIP), Andrew Donnal and Skyler Schoefner.
We’ve seen this story many times in sports. The guy who never gets the glory or the publicity is the very guy who’s doing the best work. The same player who goes on to have the outstanding career.
How Does It Compare to Our Preseason Expectations?
Andrew Norwell is well on his way to having such a story written about him. He is understated, underhyped and underappreciated but he is arguably the most solid and consistent offensive lineman on a unit that could arguably have been the best in the Big Ten.
Ohio State’s offensive line was much maligned going into the 2012 campaign, which might explain why Norwell did not even crack our preseason countdown of the Most Important Buckeyes.
The unit improved by leaps and bounds and Andrew Norwell’s solid play was a major part of that. His willingness to not only fill in where he was needed, but to perform at a high level was key to this team’s successes. The coaches went into every game knowing full well what they could expect from Norwell. This sort of thing is invaluable to a coach which is exactly what makes Andrew Norwell a most valuable player.
No. 17 Travis Howard
No. 18 C.J. Barnett
No. 19 Garrett Goebel
No. 20 Kenny Guiton