Vanderbilt freshman Warren Norman a serious weapon for the Commodores
Norman is the Vanderbilt freshman who last week became just the second player in SEC history to have three touchdowns on kickoff returns in one season. He returned a kick 80 yards against Georgia Tech on Oct. 31. Norman has also had a 76 yard return and a 99 yard return this season.
The only other player to do so was former Tennessee standout Willie Gault (1980).
Florida coach Urban Meyer, who is also the Gators' special teams coach, said Norman is one of the Gators' biggest concerns this week as Florida prepares to host Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
"We spent extra time this week (on kickoff returns),'' Meyer said. "Usually we don't spend a lot of time on kicking, well we do on Sunday, and then that's it. But we met again (Tuesday). I've never seen a freshman return three kicks for touchdowns. And it's not against those smaller schools, it's against SEC opponents. This guy is tremendous. A lot of focus and emphasis has been put on this. If you notice, our kickoff unit has Ahmad Black, Major Wright, Joe Haden, Brandon Hicks. We have some very good players who run down and that's not going to change. We have good players on that unit, we just have to make sure we get ready. The key guy is Mike Gillislee, who pulled up with a hamstring, but there's a chance we're going to have him back. We need a guy like that.''
Norman has 852 return yards this season. Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said Norman's success is a combination of good blocking and a special talent for Norman.
"As a kick returner, No. 1 we have some good blocking and No. 2 he just sees everything that is happening in front of him,'' Johnson said. "Even when he is getting the ball in the backfield as a running back, he sees wholes where a lot of people just run down the field. His feet are never very high off the ground and he's able to put his foot in the ground and make a lot ... if you see the film and see it from the rear, you see he never makes long cuts, they are all really quick cuts and he cuts right behind people and keeps his feet moving. That's the thing, if you can keep your speed while you are making cuts, you have a chance to break through. We've preached about getting the ball up field quickly and those people coming from the outside really didn't have a chance to converge on him because he was popping it through. That's how all three of his returns have been, he just pops through and no one can catch him."