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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Bill Norton's pledge to UGA should be seen as stout. Very, very stout.

Why D-line standout Bill Norton remains immovable in his UGA pledge

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least four days a week. This installment reflects a conversation with 4-star commit Bill Norton. He has a case for the most interesting recruit in the 2019 class. 

Bill Norton would love to produce rap beats one day. If he could parlay that passion into a few like the ones fellow Memphis, Tenn., resident Tay Keith (see Look Alive by Drake) has created, he’d be a happy 4-star defensive end.

Norton is also rethinking that lion’s mane of hair. He could go with a mohawk.

He might dye it a different color. This is the same young man who brings up the term “suplex” when asked what goes through his mind amid making tackles for Christian Brothers in Memphis.

Bill Norton-UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football recruiting
Four-star defensive end Bill Norton committed to UGA in March. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

When he learned former Georgia defensive captain Bill Goldberg is the same Goldberg from pro wrestling, he was more than amused.

A suplex guy and a UGA guy? Who also played D-line? That was too perfect.

He just might produce that rap beat one day. It could even lead him into the squared circle like Bill Goldberg, too.

Though he’s part of the Class of 2019, Norton’s name comes to my mind often as message board fingers point to the defensive line recruiting at Georgia.

Do folks forget that:

  • … he’s rated as the nation’s No. 11 strongside DE prospect and as the No. 144 overall player on the 247Sports composite rankings?
  • …. UGA has not signed a pure defensive lineman rated as high as Norton since 2016?
  • …the now 6-foot-6 and 280-pound player keeps getting bigger without sacrificing his speed?
  • …. the second-year defensive line coach was a major influence in his decision?
  • …that Notre Dame grad transfer Jay Hayes was also recruited away from Oklahoma to UGA?

A few interesting factoids about Bill Norton

When he committed to UGA earlier this year, it cemented a bond that had grown strong for months. Norton was already a Georgia guy well in advance of that decision. 

Alabama coach Nick Saban called Norton from the NFL draft this year. Tennessee has prioritized him. That new staff doesn’t want to see another rare blue-chip from the Volunteer State on that team in Athens.

He’s experienced his share of negative recruiting as a UGA commit, but one thing is still crystal.

Bill Norton-Georgia football-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football recruiting
Bill Norton might just go with a radical new haircut after he’s finished with his senior pictures this summer. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Norton has not stepped on foot on another campus since he committed. Doesn’t plan to.

“Nope,” Norton said of other visits. “Not a single one. That’s the God’s honest truth. I haven’t been anywhere else.”

The future “Trench Mob” member for Tray Scott at UGA plans just one official visit. That will be in December with the other cornerstones for the 2019 class.

When he goes to UGA, he doesn’t need to reinforce a good vibe. He simply feels better and better about his decision. Every time.

“I’m 100 percent,” Norton said. “It grows stronger every time I visit. I’m not going to change anywhere. I don’t think that could ever happen. Just knowing the relationships that I have made visiting and stuff. I don’t see it changing. Ever.”

Little things pop up. Every visit. He recently had a good chat with an All-SEC candidate, kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. They discussed mix tapes. Freshman tackle Cade Mays, another Tennessee pull, is already a good friend.

Why ‘Coach Tray’ mattered a great deal to Bill Norton

Norton thought about taking other official visits. Just to blow through a few. But he stopped short of that.

Bill Norton-UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Bill Norton has not visited a single school other than Georgia since he made his commitment in March. (Courtesy photo)

“I don’t have any interest or desire to go on officials anywhere else,” Norton said. “I think the only official I’m going to take is to Georgia late in December or something like that. When Coach Tray wants me to. I don’t think I’m going to do any officials anywhere else, though.”

He’s not sure if he can graduate from Christian Brothers and enroll early at Georgia. He’s trying to, but it sounds as if it would be unprecedented for his school.

“I’m still trying to fight for that,” Norton said. “That’s something I definitely want to do.”

He will rotate at left tackle and start at defensive end. Norton had 45 tackles, 16 tackles for losses and 7 sacks as a junior.

Scott was a major factor in this decision. He calls him Coach Tray all the time. It is out of respect, but also adds a dose of friendship to it by including the first name.

“The first time I ever met him was on FaceTime,” Norton said. “He definitely wants to know his recruits on a personal level. That’s the first thing I noticed about Coach Tray. When he was looking at me as a player, he wants a guy that will fight. He wants a dog for the Dawgs. He wants a guy who grinds.

“But he always made sure to talk to me about more than football. What I’m doing. What he’s doing. Vacations. Family. He definitely made sure to get to know me with a great effort and the best recruiting effort out of any the coaches I talked to.”

Scott goes heavy on the real. Light on the sizzle.

“Some recruiters will be like, ‘Did you see this and this?’ or ‘Did you see our state-of-the-art cold tubs?’ and other recruiters will name that materialistic stuff. Coach Scott is just real. He’s recruiting people based on a personal level and not based on what the school has and what that school and its stuff can do for them to get them to the NFL. He does something that not many coaches do while they are recruiting.”

When he arrives, the plan is to flex Norton from the 4 to 5 techniques on early downs. He’ll kick out to a 6 technique in passing situations. 

Norton might soon shave his hair real close and then dye it red. That’s a thought. He could even shave “Dawgs” into the side of his scalp. The words “Trench Mob” might also be closely considered. That’s the social media moniker for Scott’s D-line at UGA.

He won’t do either until his senior pictures have been taken. He’s got a fun side to him, but he’s not that crazy.

UGA has its sights on more Tennessee D-line stalwarts

Norton told DawgNation he’s gotten into a group message with a couple of targets for the D-line who also live in Tennessee.

Those would be:

  • 3-star Zion Logue: The 6-foot-6, 285-pound player from Lebanon High ranks as the nation’s No. 50 strongside DE and the No. 756 prospect overall.
  • 3-star Tymon Mitchell: The 6-foot-3, 309-pound player from Franklin Road Academy in Nashville also ranks as the nation’s No. 24 defensive tackle and the No. 389 prospect overall on the 2019 247Sports composite.

Logue recently placed UGA in his top 8. His stock has rocketed over the last month after some strong showings at summer camps. Logue has also set his commitment date for Sept. 8.

“Coach Tray and I have been talking a whole lot about locking those guys down,” Norton said. “We made a group chat with those guys and I’m going to be talking to those guys to make sure they get up there and they will take their visits and stuff. Those are two goons I need to get down there.”

Norton said those were “two big dudes” that the interest level is high for the UGA class.

“That would be huge if we got them,” Norton said.

If asked, he will share the biggest reasons why he loves the Bulldogs.

“Coach [Kirby] Smart and Coach Tray both have not changed one bit from the first day that I met them,” Norton said.

DL depth half-full or half-empty? Negative recruiting?

I do find it interesting that Georgia has reached the point where it has experienced some negative recruiting. Even along its defensive line.

Norton has heard:

  • Reasons why he shouldn’t go to Georgia instead of reasons to intend another school
  • Georgia has stacked up too many guys on the defensive line
  • He is going to flip. That rival coach knows he is going to eventually come around.
  • The same reasons why recruits have been told not to go to Alabama. They have too many players and too much depth on the defensive line.
  • The defensive line coach is new and a little shaky to be in the SEC.

As it stands, it looks as if the Bulldogs will lose eight defensive linemen off the current roster over the next four years.

“Georgia travels 13 defensive linemen for road games,” Norton said. “They do heavy rotations on the defensive line. They are not rocking the same four guys or six guys the whole game. That depth stuff has never bothered me anyway. I want to compete.”

This conversation will probably not make a whole lot of sense to those who feel that the Bulldogs are razor thin when it comes to defensive line depth for 2019 and 2020.

But it does explain a whole lot about the sometimes cutthroat world of high-stakes college recruiting.

Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-America linebacker Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.