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August 19, 2011

Art Norman hoping to make an impact

NC State fans have had a chance to follow redshirt freshman defensive end Art Norman around this preseason thanks to a new feature on the school's website, GoPack.com.

Norman is one of three players participating, joining senior fullback Taylor Gentry and redshirt sophomore defensive back Dean Haynes. The three were apparently picked by Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien, or at least that's how Norman understood it.

"I'm not sure why," Norman joked. "In high school I did broadcasting all four years. I'm used to being behind the camera. I'm actually really good at shooting and editing, I'm not used to being in the front of the camera. It's a little awkward."

Norman, who helped Stone Mountain (Ga.) Chamblee High do news and other shows for local television, has heard the ribbing from teammates during the preseason.

"All day," Norman noted. "It's been everybody, 'Where are the cameras at today? Where the cameras at?'"

Given the buzz that Norman has generated this preseason, he may need to get used to the camera. He is being counted on to provide depth behind fifth-year senior Jeff Rieskamp at defensive end.

Last fall Norman was a 6-foot, 225-pound true freshman. He has grown an inch and is now 250 pounds.

"I don't feel like I have gotten slower, so bigger, faster, stronger, that's everyone's goal playing football," Norman said.

And although he admits he did not see the benefits of redshirting until the end of last season, he knows taking the year was "actually a good thing."

Norman did not need the time to get used to college like most students. His older brother is Vanderbilt junior running back Warren Norman, and he helped get his younger brother ready for college life.

Rather, the redshirt season helped get Norman stronger and used to the difference in the levels of football.

"When you redshirt, at least at NC State, you go up against the first team offense," Norman noted. "I feel like I got so much better going up against the first team offense. If I didn't redshirt I would have gone up against the scout team. I feel like the first team made me better. Jake Vermiglio, going up against him everyday, R.J. Mattes, going up against him.

"When I first started, they pushed me all the way to the sideline. By the end of the season, it was more like I didn't lose all the time."

He also acknowledged that it has taken a year to understand and know the defense.

"Now I feel more comfortable," Norman said. "I know it so I can be more free and get off the ball quicker."

The added strength and familiarity with the defense seems to have Norman in a position to make a contribution on the team this fall. He already has set a few goals for himself.

"I want to have the quickest first step in the ACC and lead the team in sacks," he said.



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