Rumors circulated this spring that Levi Norwood might be returning to State College.
The rumors turned out to be true. They were just a few months premature.
Norwood is coming back to Central Pennsylvania, but he's going to finish high school first in Waco, Texas, where his family has lived since his father, Brian, became Baylor's defensive coordinator a year and a half ago. Then he'll enroll at Penn State and be a wide receiver for the Nittany Lion football team.
Norwood, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound wide receiver, became the 11th member of Penn State's 2010 recruiting class when he committed to the Lions on Wednesday.
"Since we moved, Levi has had a desire to go to Penn State. State College was home for my children for seven years,'' said Brian Norwood, a Nittany Lion assistant coach before taking the Baylor job. "The move was very challenging for him. He's been adjusting well, but he's been blessed to be given an opportunity by Coach [Joe] Paterno to go to Penn State.''
According to the younger Norwood, Penn State is where his heart always was. And, to be honest, he had trouble staying away.
"I came back for probably five of Penn State's games,'' said Norwood, whose older brother, Jordan, was a star receiver for the Lions, "and I had to catch it when State High played Altoona.
"My dad's excited and happy for me. He's known for a long time this is what I've wanted.''
Norwood was in State College for what he said was the first time in a couple of months last week. On Friday and Saturday, he worked out at Penn State's senior camp, meeting current Lion recruits P.J. Jones and Adrian Coxson and catching up with former teammate Alex Kenney. However, he had actually been in town for the entire week, helping Little Lion boys basketball coach Drew Frank with a camp at the high school.
Most had felt Norwood had gotten his Penn State scholarship offer based on his performance at Penn State's camp. Norwood, however, said that was inaccurate.
"I had the offer a week before I came back,'' Norwood said.
Norwood didn't even play football as a junior at Midway High School. Norwood is playing for the Panthers - ranked eighth in the state - this fall.
"I wanted to see how basketball would go without football. Plus, it was right in the middle of the move, which would have made it tough,'' Norwood said. "The football coach was giving me [recruiting] letters. I missed football. Seeing Jordan play made me miss it.''
Even without being out for the team, colleges like Baylor and Texas A&M thought enough of Norwood to make recruiting overtures, although Penn State was his only scholarship offer at the time he committed.
"He definitely wanted to go to Penn State. He did well in basketball, though, and had some mid-major offers there. I thought he might consider that,'' Brian Norwood said. "His situation was similar to Jordan's.''
Jordan Norwood was considered a bigger basketball recruit coming out of high school, and word of his commitment to Penn State for football actually didn't break until 10 weeks after it happened. Known for his terrific hands, he went on to become the Lions' No. 3 receiver all-time and is currently trying to latch on with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent.
"His strengths are probably very similar to those of Jordan. Actually, Levi's a combination of Jordan and Gabe,'' Brian Norwood said, referring to his eldest son, who was a key part of George Mason's 2006 Final Four basketball run. "Physically, he's taller and bigger than Jordan. He does things with his length similar to Gabe in basketball. His mannerisms and the way he runs routes are very much like Jordan.''
Levi Norwood might also follow in Jordan's footsteps in another respect. Jordan came in as a mid-year enrollee, or grayshirt. Levi said that is a possibility for him, as well.
He might not be the last Norwood at Penn State, either. Right now, the family's youngest son, Zac, is in eighth grade. He could be entering Penn State just as Levi is graduating.
"I hope so,'' Levi Norwood said.