Eric Norwood looked around at the Tampa skyline and said he felt comfortable. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, Columbia will be Norwood's home for another year. After considering a jump to an NFL city, Norwood decided during the offseason that he'd be better off playing his senior year at USC and...[details]
2007 (Senior): All-conference and All-America candidate at middle linebacker... also should be a candidate for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker... begins his second season in a Gamecock uniform... former junior college transfer who earned first team All-SEC honors by the Associated Press in 2006... arrived in Columbia in January of 2006 and went through spring drills... started all 13 games... team's leading tackler with 107 total stops, over twice as many as any other player on the squad... an amazing 79 percent of those (85 of 107) were solo stops... ranked fourth in the league and 55th in the country in tackles, averaging 8.2 per game... of the returning SEC players, only Kentucky's Wesley Woodyard had more tackles than Brinkley in 2006... led the team and was sixth in the league with 14.5 tackles for loss... also recorded 5.0 sacks... led the team in tackles in eight of 13 games, including a career-high 13 (11 solos) against Florida... also had 11 stops against Mississippi State and Houston.
2006 (Junior): Junior college transfer who enrolled at South Carolina in January of 2006... slotted at the middle linebacker position and came out of spring as the probable starter at that position... is a tall linebacker with good size... can plug up the inside and has the speed to help in pass coverage... possesses all the tools, just needs time to learn the scheme to gain consistency... presented with the defense's Everyday Effort Award following spring drills.
The Good: Possesses a thick, massive frame for the position with intriguing body control and footwork for his size. Is very agile and balanced in and out of his breaks. Does a nice job slipping blockers inside and getting after the ball. Showcases good power on contact and is a sound wrap-up tackler in all areas. Displays good instincts and awareness off the snap count and can be an effective blitzer from inside. The Bad: Lacks great hand placement and technique inside. Doesn't play as physical as his size indicates. Doesn't take on many lineman in the hole -- would rather slip blocks. Is too heavy-legged in space to be much of a factor vs. the pass. Looks best suited to play inside or possibly outside in a 3-4 scheme.
Positives: Big and naturally strong. Good-upper-body strength. Fairly light on his feet for his size and can slip blocks. Solid, wrap-up tackler. Has a 35-inch vertical jump. Negatives: Is best when assignments are kept simple and he could struggle to handle a complex playbook. Does not play to his timed speed and his instincts are inconsistent. Does not play big and would rather run around a block than take one on. Average range and burst to the perimeter. Durability needs to be evaluated. Summary: A big, strong "Mike" linebacker with the size desired inside in a 3-4 front, Brinkley worked out surprisingly well at the Combine at a reduced weight, dropping 10 pounds from the East-West Shrine game. Would be best suited playing between the tackles and may become a two-down 'backer. Grade: Third-to-fourth-round pick.