August 31, 2011

Norman has opened eyes

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When Georgia released its depth chart for Saturday's game against Boise State, the sight of walk-on Connor Norman sitting on the two-deep at strong safety behind starter Shawn Williams raised more than a few eyebrows.

Norman included.

"I wouldn't have told you it would happen that way last year for sure," Norman said. "It's cool. I'm still learning from the older guys who are helping me know what do just in case my name is called."

The idea of the Presbyterian College transfer seeing playing time in the Bulldog secondary might not be as far fetched as it might seem.

According to secondary coach Scott Lakatos, Norman may be the most knowledgeable of all of Georgia's defensive backs and is the reason he's currently listed ahead of scholarship players Marc Deas and Corey Moore.

"Connor is a program guy and he's dedicated to learning. He's very knowledgeable to begin with but he can apply those things to football," Lakatos said. "Like I say all the time, the more you know the more valuable you are and he is very valuable to us."

Apparently, Norman can apparently do it all in one respect. Of all Georgia's defensive backs, he's the only one Lakatos said can actually play all four secondary positions.

"We've got guys who can physically do it, but mentally Norman is pretty far along," Lakatos said. "He makes mistakes like everyone else, but he's got a pretty good feel for all the positions."

Lakatos didn't hesitate when asked if Norman might actually get on the field.

"He can be out there quite a bit," he said. "I can see using him in certain situations."

Norman, who starred at Peachtree Ridge, began opening the eyes of Lakatos back in the spring, culminating with a strong effort in the G-Day game when he collected five tackles and picked off a pass earning Outstanding Walk-On honors for defense.

"It was fun. It really was. I came into spring as a corner and because of injuries I just asked if I could try some safety because so many guys got hurt, so that really opened the door at safety," he said. "I wouldn't have pictured it that way, ever."

Norman had played safety before.

"I played strong safety at Presbyterian, but it was a rolled up safety, it wasn't deep," Norman explained. "This is the first time I've been a deep safety."

A junior, Norman was offered the opportunity to walk-on at Georgia during his senior year at Peachtree Ridge before opting to sign with Presbyterian.

But after spending two years at the school, Norman began to have second thoughts. So, after a phone conversation with Joe Tereshinski, who formerly handled the Bulldogs' walk-on program, the Duluth native decided to live out his dream.

"I talked to dad a lot about it and he said I might as well try," said Norman, whose father, mother and brother all attended Georgia. "He said to give it a shot, so that's what I did. I'm glad I did."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at dash@ugasports.com.