Norman Finds a Home at Texas Tech
Sophomore free safety has high expectations.
September 23, 1998
From the moment he walked onto the turf in Jones Stadium and heard the voices of thousands of fans screaming "RAIDER...POWER," John Norman knew he was in the right place.
Norman, a blue-chip recruit from Midland Lee, chose Tech after considering Nebraska, Southern California, Texas, and Colorado. "Tech had everything to offer me, a great coaching staff and a winning program," Norman said.
Norman was named to virtually every all-state team in Texas and was named District 4-5A defensive MVP both his junior and senior year. During his senior season, he would record 80 tackles, six interceptions, eight pass breakups, and two fumble recoveries. This outstanding year would put him on the 1996 Parade All-America list and place him as the fourth best defensive back in the nation according to Superprep Magazine.
But what he wanted most was to make an immediate impact on the Red Raider defense. During his freshmen season, he would serve as backup to All-Big 12 selection Dane Johnson. He would see significant action in all 11 games and record 45 tackles, a pass interception, a fumble recovery, and catch a nine-yard pass off a fake punt, included in ESPN's plays of the year.
"Playing behind Dane was a learning experience for me last year, Norman said. I learned a lot from Dane and I will try to put that to work on the field this season."
With the departure of Johnson last season, Norman has received the starting nod at the free safety position in the Red Raider secondary. He also returns punt and kickoffs for the Texas Tech special team units.
"This will be my first time taking over a leadership role here at Tech and I am looking forward to it, Norman said. Everyday I have to go to practice pumped up and ready to go. I have to give 100 percent on every play and sometimes that is hard to do. I just have to keep my enthusiasm and focus on the game. I am very excited about the opportunity ahead of me."
After outstanding spring workouts, the Tech coaching staff became even more confident in Norman's abilities.
"John Norman has a chance to be a big-time football player, Tech defensive coordinator John Goodner said. He really enjoys practice every day and works hard. I think he will be playing football for a long, long time. He is a big hitter and is a real leader on our defense.
This sensational sophomore is gaining more respect with each play from not only coaches but teammates as well.
"John is an all-around athlete, senior place-kicker Jaret Greaser said. He gives nothing less than 100 percent every practice. He is one of those athletes you want on your team he is All-America material.
When you take a first glance at his 6-foot-1, 197-pound frame and watch his exploits on the football field, one can't help but label him as nothing but a "jock." However, there is a softer side to this athlete that may go unnoticed by others singing.
"I have been singing all my life, Norman said. Singing has been in my family ever since I can remember. Both my Mom and Dad are accomplished singers."
At the mention of the "Fab Five," most think of the Michigan basketball teams of 1992 and 1993. For Norman, he thinks of his old high school singing group "The Fab Five," consisting of Tech's Antwan Alexander, Cory and Fred Pertile of North Texas, and Draefus Andrews. The group performed at local functions including elementary schools where they would not only sing but urge kids to stay off drugs.
"My dad taught me to not be one dimensional, Norman said. It is good to be versatile. A lot of NFL players used to take ballet and that was considered something a jock wouldn't do. I enjoy singing because it expands my mind.
One thing is for certain, John Norman will be an invaluable asset to the Red Raiders this season. He has the capabilities to be a big-time player and leader.
After waiting patiently for a starting position, Norman will get to add his own lyrics to the Red Raider defense this fall.