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Denver Broncos wide receiver Jordan Norwood (11) turns up field on a 2nd quarter reception against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL game at Sports Authority Field in Denver, CO August 29, 2015. (Photo credit: Eric Lars Bakke/Denver Broncos)

Life is pretty good for Jordan Norwood these days.

The State College High alum was recently married, celebrated the birth of a daughter and rejoiced following a Super Bowl win with the Denver Broncos in which he set a Super Bowl record with a 61-yard punt return to set up the game-winning score.

Not bad for a player who got a late introduction to the sport at State High’s Memorial Field.

Norwood, who arrived in State College as a sophomore, didn’t pull on a Little Lions football jersey until his junior year. Ironically, he never returned a punt before his senior season at Penn State.

“My athletic career at State High was almost completely centered around basketball for the most part,” Norwood said. “I remember going to the guidance counselor and I needed my transcripts to get to Penn State as far as NCAA rules to gain admission, I told her I was playing football at Penn State and she said she didn’t know I played football at all.”

Instead, Norwood crafted a reputation at State High as a dynamic jumper on the hardwood — his skills as a point guard helped the Little Lions to a Class AAAA title in 2003 — and an excellent student.

Recently, Norwood’s mind wandered back to State High’s hallways and classrooms where he developed interests aside from athletics early on. After all, he’s had to ponder a career outside of football before.

Undrafted out of Penn State in 2009, Norwood was signed by the Cleveland Browns but didn’t make it through the final round of cuts out of training camp. It wasn’t until Week 5 that the Philadelphia Eagles called to offer him a spot on their practice squad.

From there he’d bounce around for a few seasons — from Philly, back to Cleveland, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and finally to Denver where he tore his left ACL last summer before making a comeback that included Super Bowl glory.

“I don’t think I thought about football being a career until my second or third year in the NFL, honestly,” Norwood said. “I kind of took things moment by moment. I was undrafted, started out on a couple of practice squads. Even my first year, I was cut at the end of training camp in Cleveland and I was at home for four and a half, five weeks. At that time, I was starting to think, okay, time to look for a job or get going on something.”

With his experiences, Norwood knows as well as any NFL player that football can be gone in an instant. One day he’d like to use the interests he developed as a student at State High in a new career.

“State High did a great job,” Norwood said. “They provided courses that really pointed me in the direction that I wanted to go. I took technical drawing courses and we had the auto CAD computer programs that got me interested at that time in engineering and architectural engineering. I also took computer graphics classes and classes that maybe another high school wouldn’t have offered.”

He decided to major in advertising at Penn State and explored the possibility of a double major with graphic design as his second focus. While emerging as a standout for Joe Paterno, Norwood made the Dean’s list twice and completed his advertising degree.

“I didn’t finish the graphic design part of that but I took a lot of classes toward it,” Norwood said. “And State High definitely got me pushed in that direction.”

State High also helped him develop good study habits early on. They enabled him to manage his time accordingly, a critical ability for Norwood especially considering he also played basketball for the Nittany Lions.

Norwood plans to return to his roots during the offseason, however. He and his wife Aleah are planning a trip to State College for Penn State’s Blue-White game in April and will pass by Norwood’s old high school, where he still has fond memories.

Ironically, none of them are of punt returns for the Little Lions, a job he’s carved out a niche for himself with in the NFL.

“I didn’t do any of that at State High!” Norwood said with a laugh. “I was a very, very, underweight kid and it sort of takes a little bit for coaches and teammates to gain your trust. But [then-coach Dave Lintal] gave me a great opportunity to play and make plays. My senior year I broke my thumb and they still let me play some defense with a cast on my hand.”