The Big South Conference had two players selected during Saturday's NFL Draft. Coastal Carolina's Josh Norman became the third Chanticleer, and just the fifth player in Big South history, to be selected in the NFL Draft when the Carolina Panthers picked him in the fifth round (143rd overall pick and eighth pick of the fifth round). Presbyterian College's Justin Bethel was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the sixth round. He was the 177th overall pick and the first for the Blue Hose since 1969.
Norman was a two-time All-American (2009 and 2011), earning consensus first team honors in 2011. The Greenwood, S.C., native was additionally a finalist for the 2011 Buck Buchanan Award, which annually goes to the top player in FCS football, and became the first player in school and Big South history to play in both the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine game.
Norman is a three-time, first team All-Big South selection and was a 2009 third team All-American after shattering a Big South single-season record and ranking second in the NCAA with eight interceptions.
This past season, Norman led the Chanticleers in tackles and led the Big South in both passes defended (1.27) and pass breakups (12). Nationally, his 12 PBU ranked sixth-best, while his 1.27 passes defended ranked 10th-best. The 12 PBU was additionally a CCU single-season record and Norman's 49 solo tackles this past season ranks fifth on the CCU seasonal chart. He was a two-time Big South Defensive Player of the Week, helping Coastal Carolina defeat VMI and Presbyterian in the process.
Norman ranks fifth (tied) on the NCAA career passes defended list with 48 and sixth (tied) on its career PBU list with 35. He is tied with former Chanticleer All-American Quinton Teal for the Big South and CCU all-time records for passes defended, while his 35 career PBU is both a CCU and Big South record. Norman's 13 career interceptions ranks second on the CCU and Big South all-time lists, while his 196 career tackles ranks ninth in school history. Norman blocked a CCU-record four kicks, forced four fumbles to rank third on the CCU career list and his 138 solo tackles is fourth-best in school history.
Norman joins Tyler Thigpen and Jerome Simpson as being Chanticleer draft picks. In 2007, Thigpen became the first player in Big South history to be drafted when the Minnesota Vikings took the quarterback in the seventh round (217th overall pick). The following year, Simpson was the taken in the second round (46th overall pick) by the Cincinnati Bengals to still rank as the earliest a Big South player has ever been drafted. Other Big South players to be drafted include Gardner-Webb's Brian Johnson (2008 seventh round by Kansas City) and Liberty's Rashad Jennings (2009 seventh round by Jacksonville Jaguars).
Other Chanticleers to make NFL rosters include Teal, Mike Tolbert, who recently signed with the Carolina Panthers, and Maurice Simpkins.
Bethel is just the ninth player from PC to be drafted by the NFL and the first since Dan Eckstein, who was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 15th round in 1969. Bethel's sixth round selection is the highest, eclipsing Bob Waters who was chosen by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round in 1960.
Bethel becomes the sixth player from the Big South Conference to be selected to the draft. Bethel ended his career at PC with several accolades and records. He earned the third All-Conference nod of his career and his and PC's first Defensive Player of the Year award for his performance on the field as a senior. He became the all-time leader in the Big South in blocked kicks this season as well as the all-time leader in career solo blocks.
Bethel was fourth in the league in tackles, third in passes defended and second in interceptions. He recorded double-digit tackles in four games, including a career-high 15 at Furman this season.
Bethel leaves PC as the career leader in tackles, as well as interceptions. Bethel led the team in tackles this past season with 87, 3.5 of which were for a loss. He had a sack to his credit and recorded four interceptions, one of which he ran back for a touchdown against PAC-12 member California, where he also had a blocked punt which he ran back for a score for the team's only points of the game.
The two-time Big South Special Teams and Defensive Player of the Week was a Buck Buchanan Award finalist and a FCS College Football Performance Award DB, National DB and National Defensive Performance Award winner. He was also named to the Associated Press FCS All-American Second-Team, as well as the Sports Journal All-America Team.
A participant in the 87th annual East-West Shrine game this past January, Bethel was named to the Phil Steele FCS All-America Team, as well as the Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS All-America Team. He was a first-team and second-team selection, respectively. He also earned the College Football Performance FCS Elite Punt Returner Award.
Bethel made a name for himself at the 2012 NFL Combine, where he earned top performer accolades in the vertical jump and broad jump.
Bethel will graduate in May from Presbyterian College with a degree in Business Administration.