"This was so spur of the moment," Norton said of the development earlier this summer. "I finished my season at Lenoir and attended the State Games for the underclassmen in North Carolina with my little brother. Coach [Chad] Holbrook was talking with another guy while there … and somehow my name came up. [UNC] got hit pretty hard with the draft with [L.J.] Hoes, [Derrik] Gibson and now [Tim] Fedroff obviously.
“Coach Holbrook called me the next day -- this was early June or late May -- and asked me if I would be interested. [I said,] ‘Coach, Carolina is my dream spot -- that is where you dream about playing where I come from.’”
Norton’s family was ecstatic at the stunning turn of events.
"I called everyone -- my mom went crazy, my family went nuts,” he said. “My step-dad is a huge Chapel Hill fan. Everybody was insanely happy; my family was amazed. It took everybody by surprise and made it that much more sweet. It has changed my life."
After leading the Lenoir squad to the NJCAA Division II World Series last season and earning a spot on the All-Tournament team, Norton concluded his career with the Lancers with a total of 13 home runs and 69 stolen bases. His speed on the base-paths was appealing to the Tar Heel coaching staff.
"That is the kind of ballplayer that I am,” said the outfielder. “I was kind of playing out of position the past season. I was batting in the middle of the lineup for the necessity of the team. I had a real good season this past year [with the bat]. I improved my runs batted in last season while batting third about 75 percent of the time during the season."
Norton won a state championship his senior year at Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland County, batting .500 for the season and earning on the All-Conference and All-State 4A honors.
As for what position he’ll play at UNC?
"I am going to do whatever to fight for a spot," Norton said. "I don't care it they DH me, put me in left field, send me out at shortstop or catcher... I will do whatever it takes to get into the lineup."
With the departure of the entire Tar Heel starting outfield from last season, with right fielder Fedroff heading to the Cleveland Indians farm system and two seniors departing in Kyle Shelton in left and Seth Williams in center, Norton will have an opportunity to shore up the depth chart in the outfield.
Norton, who recalls trips to Boshamer Stadium years ago to watch current Toronto Blue Jays prospect Russ Adams, is looking forward to returning to Chapel Hill to take the field for the Tar Heels in the newly renovated facility.
"I think everyone's goal at UNC is to get back to the College World Series and win it,” he said. “Especially with the three weekend starters coming back in [Alex] White, [Adam] Warren and [Matt] Harvey - it is not going to take too much offense in order to win game. Hopefully I can come in, compete and earn a spot and we can take it to Omaha."