Year of Eligibility: Junior
Position: Defensive tackle
Measurables: Six foot three, 312 pounds
Career Stats: 58 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Kendrick Norton is supremely efficient at stacking blockers, using his hands to create space between himself and the blocker while simultaneously peeking into the backfield on passing plays. He can then diagnose the play and use his agility and strength to disrupt the offense in the backfield. It’s magnificent to watch, if you’re all for trench warfare.
Norton is as gap sound as it comes, meaning he holds his ground against blockers. He keeps his leverage against the blocker and maintains gap integrity to get an advantage in a matchup.
Norton also excels at shedding a block to make a tackle, a skill that comes from his tendency to keep an eye on his keys in the backfield. He does a great job at watching the ball carrier from the snap to the whistle. There are moments when Norton gets frozen by play action, because he trusts his keys; yet for a big man, Norton does well at getting his engine going after quick stops.
Best of all, he plays mean. There haven’t been any studies proving that a happy-go-lucky defender is less impactful than a defender with a mean streak; however, it speaks to tradition when you see Norton dive into piles, throw down the QB, or toss his opponent with disdain. Perhaps Kung-Fu Kenny is an appropriate nickname for this Kendrick as well.
Of course, Norton has great running mates along the defensive line in DE Chad Thomas, DE Joe Jackson, and fellow DT Richard McIntosh. All of these players are ultra-talented, doing their jobs and making it easier for the D-Line, the defense, and the team as a whole to be successful.
Norton’s impact on the defense will not be seen through his stat line. Is there room to improve on the 39 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks from the 2016 season? Of course. However, if Norton is drawing double teams in the middle, there should be one-on-one matchups along the D-line, creating opportunities for success on game days.
There is a chance that Norton could have plenty to think about in terms of his college eligibility after the season. However, if he’s able to put together another solid season, similar to his sophomore campaign, it will be a tough decision.