Oct. 10, 2009
Purchase Football Tickets | 2009 Gameday Central
Say this much for true freshman running back Warren Norman: He doesn't waste much time. Whether he is electrifying the Commodore faithful returning a kickoff or breaking off another impressive run from scrimmage, Norman's rapid arrival has quickly offered hope to a Vanderbilt offense that has at times lacked that big-play threat.
"(I) just came in here and started working hard right away," Norman said. "It doesn't matter if you're a freshman, sophomore, whatever...(if) you come in here, do you job, and execute, you can play."
Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson described Norman as a "cool customer" after first seeing him in collegiate action against Western Carolina, citing that same work ethic and confidence as the reasons for Norman's quick rise up the depth chart and onto the field.
"(Norman) did a good job of learning the offense and knowing what to do," Johnson said.
Hence, it was clear from the start that Norman grasped the system, fitting in as if it was second nature to a seasoned veteran. Norman's first collegiate carries went to seven, sixteen, sixteen, and a seven-yard touchdown, respectively, as the back showed a propensity for the big play. He has delivered on this promise so far, registering seven runs of more than ten yards (including a 58-yard touchdown scamper against Rice and a 48-yard burst against Ole Miss) under the tutelage of Johnson and running backs coach Des Kitchings.
"Coach Kitchings...and Coach Johnson just tell us...(what) we need to do and how to execute it," Norman said.
These two coaches are not the only mentors Norman has, however. With Vanderbilt's stable of capable backs--including redshirt senior running back Jared Hawkins, redshirt junior Kennard Reeves, and true freshman (and Norman's roommate) Zac Stacy -- the group leans on each other, especially Hawkins, for advice that could benefit their rushing repertoires. Norman is reaping the benefits of such sage advice.
"(Hawkins is) helping big-time with the mental aspects of (my) game," Norman said. "Things like football, pass protections, all that kind of stuff that he knows you can't teach (in terms of)...speed or strength."
Vanderbilt will need all of Norman's skills on display if they hope to climb out of a 0-3 conference record and rush back to a second consecutive bowl game. Luckily for the Commodores, they have this freshman phenom on their side, and he has felt right at home from the start.
"The first home game against Western Carolina...that was my `welcome to college football' moment," Norman said.