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Bill Norton/Contributed photo
Bill Norton is now the highest-rated 4-star commit for UGA in the class of 2019.

Bill Norton’s pledge to UGA was in the works for quite some time

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. Defensive lineman Bill Norton committed to Georgia on Sunday and explained the decision. 

Bill Norton chose UGA on Sunday, but the 4-star defensive end had seen the program as his top school for a lot longer than that.

“It was really a no-brainer,” he said. “The only reason I had been holding back for a little while was that I wanted to give every place a chance to see if any other places would be a good fit for me on the field and academically as well.”

The Class of 2019 prospect from Christian Brothers in Memphis took a trip to see his home state Volunteers this weekend. That visit went well, but it would turn out to be the visit that made up his mind that he didn’t need to wait any longer to commit to the Bulldogs.

“It was kind of a tough decision down to the end,” Norton said. “But I just kind of wanted to enjoy my senior year. I don’t feel the need to drag it on anymore if I’m already set on what fit is right for me and my future. That’s the reason I decided to commit [Sunday].”

RELATED: Check out DawgNation’s get-to-know profile on Bill Norton from last fall

Norton also excels on the basketball court for Christian Brothers in Memphis. His grandfather, Buddy Soefker, played for LSU and was drafted in 1963 by the Los Angeles Rams. He played two years at linebacker in the NFL.

Bill Norton-UGA recruiting-Georgia football-Georgia recruitingThe Memphis resident wears a shirt with the line “Let’s Eat” on it under his pads for every game. His mom calls him William; everyone else knows him as Bill.

“I’m pretty locked in,” Norton said. “I don’t plan on doing any other visits as of now. I am still an open-minded guy but as of now I am all Georgia.”

He committed to defensive line coach Tray Scott and head coach Kirby Smart.

“I know they have been waiting for me for awhile,” Norton said. “I’ve been telling them that I am pretty ready. I kept having second thoughts every time. My dad kept telling me to think about it because it was going to be the most important decision of my life probably. I’ve been holding it back for awhile. I know Coach (Scott) and Coach Smart have been waiting for me to announce it and to come tell them I am ready and committed. I know they are really excited about it and I’m ready to get back down there.”

Why this wasn’t a rash decision for Bill Norton

The Bulldogs first started recruiting Norton heavily in March of 2017. Credit Scott for following up on a tip from a guy he knew and trusted when it comes to players.

Christian Brothers strength coach John Thompson gave him the early intel on Norton.

Scott immediately saw the potential and encouraged him to check out the program. Norton made it down to UGA to camp in July. That trip was everything he was looking for.

“My strength coach was the reason that Coach (Scott) knew about me,” Norton said.

Bill Norton-UGA recruiting-Georgia football-UGA football
Bill Norton is now the highest-rated 4-star commitment that Georgia has in its top-rated class of 2019. (Bill Norton/ Contributed photo)

How long has UGA been the school to beat here? Ohio State was in it for Norton for a while. They were once in his top 2. The Volunteers recently made a huge push for Norton.

It sounds like everyone was just playing catch-up for Norton.

“Georgia has been my favorite ever since I first visited them for the camp,” he said.

That visit was to a Kirby Smart Football Camp in July of 2017. Scott had already been recruiting him heavily leading up to that first visit.

Norton’s family flew in on a Friday night and camped at UGA on that Saturday. He met Scott and Smart that day and got some good work at that camp.

“That had a huge impact on my feeling for Georgia,” Norton said. “I got some of that good 1-on-1 work with him and was with him for the day. He kind of showed me around the campus so it was a really good day the first time I visited. I immediately felt that he wanted me to be a part of the team and their university. It was immediate at Georgia. It felt right from the first time I visited.”

The relationship just built from there. He returned to UGA on three separate occasions after that first visit. Those trips include the Mississippi State and South Carolina games last season.

“Georgia has been my favorite way before all their success this past season, as well,” he said. “So I’ve been down for Georgia for a while now. My parents and my coaches have just been urging me to take my time and decide when I feel the time is right. As of now, I just feel right now is the time to do it.”

The moving parts on the decision for 4-star Bill Norton

Some schools initially tried to recruit him as an offensive tackle. Norton does have the size for it, but he’s just not wired that way.

“It is to block or be blocked for me,” Norton told DawgNation last fall. “It is about hurting people. I’ve never been a huge fan of offense. I’ve always liked hitting people. I like suplexing people.”

He called the process “stressful” and felt it was a relief to get this big recruiting decision out of the way.

“It feels good to know what is right for me and what’s good for my future,” he said on Sunday night. “It is definitely a relief to figure this out and decide.”

The 6-foot-5.5 prospect went to check out Tennessee along an unofficial visit this weekend.

“I still had a great visit,” he said. “Still had a great time meeting them and all those coaches. It was a good time to look around and meet with their academic people. But I didn’t feel they had the same fit for me as Georgia would.”

Norton ranks as the nation’s No. 11 strongside DE for 2019 on the 247Sports Composite. He’s also the No. 128 overall prospect in those rankings for this cycle.

The Bulldogs have a trio of 5-star commits in this class. Norton becomes the fifth prospect with a 4-star ranking, but he’s also the highest-rated of those 4-stars in the current class.

His decision also pushed UGA back into the No. 1 spot on the 247Sports Team composite rankings for 2019.

This will be another member of the class that will also excel in the classroom. Norton said he carries a 3.5 grade-point average.

UGA plans to use Bill Norton all along its defensive line

Scott has a specific plan for Norton. He’s rated as a defensive end prospect at times, but look for him to line up inside, too.

Norton is a “5 tech” at defensive end. That means he will line up usually on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle.

“Coach (Scott) sees me as maybe being a ‘5’ and maybe moving outside the tight end into a ‘6’ technique maybe,” Norton said. “I wouldn’t doubt that they might occasionally move me down into a ‘3’ technique if they needed me to. Depending on what front they are in.”

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