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Norman stays humble, despite huge expectations

Marcus Norman was a second-team all-conference selection last year. This year, he's one of the top offensive lineman to watch. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/GOUSFBULLS

He would turn heads if he walked into a room.

Standing tall at 6-foot-6 and weighing 305 pounds, Marcus Norman may seem larger than life — literally. He was a second team all-conference selection last season and is currently on a watch list for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to college football’s best interior lineman.

Despite being one of the most talked about lineman this preseason, off the field, Norman is just like any other college student.

“He’s a clown,” fellow offensive lineman William Atterbury said. “We’re bigger guys so we like to go out to eat, but we also play video games together. It’s always a lot of fun.”

When they’re able, Norman and Atterbury find time to go out to eat at their favorite place — Sake, which offers an unlimited buffet of sushi and hibachi for just $12.99, a deal specific to college students.

On a more serious note, Atterbury said he and the rest of the offensive line refuse to let the preseason awards go to Norman’s head.

“Every day there’s that constant competition, especially with the D-line” Atterbury said. “Every time they beat us, they beat him in a rep. They’re automatically talking smack, getting in his face, so he knows that every day he has to come and give it his all because us as an offensive line and defensive line as competition will not allow him to (let the awards go to his head).”

Norman shares a similar sentiment.

“Usually when the defensive guys make a play and they know they made it on us they always try to make fun of us,” Norman said. “I know they’re trying to help us get better, so it’s always good competition.”

After losing quarterback Quinton Flowers to the NFL, Norman, who is accustomed to blocking for Flowers, says he doesn’t see the O-line needing to change much in order to adjust to a new quarterback.

“I don’t think a lot is going to change because we have a lot of great quarterbacks coming in and they can all play at any time because they’re all that good,” Norman said. “We just have to reload and make sure everything stays consistent and get even better this season.”

At the end of the 2017 season, the Bulls’ offense ranked No. 6 nationally in total offense with 6,156 total yards, averaging 513 yards per game and 6.1 yards per play. Even with the Bulls’ top-10 offense, Norman said still sees improvement to be made.

“As an offensive line, we have to finish more because there’s a lot of plays that we left on the field that could’ve been touchdown plays,” Norman said. “We just didn’t finish enough, so right now we’re just trying to help others finish their blocks.”  

Offensive line coach Matt Mattox is entering his second season at USF. It will be the first time in six seasons that the Bulls return a coach at this position.

Mattox has been leading Norman and the O-line during camp this summer to have a successful season in the weeks and months ahead. Mattox held the same position at the University of Texas, also on head coach Charlie Strong’s staff. Prior to Texas, he coached on the offensive line at Tulsa, Bowling Green and Eastern Illinois.

Mattox has been honing in on the small things as the season opener is just five days away.

“The last few days we’ve been going through some fine details and communication, making sure that we sure all that up before we get into game week stuff,” Mattox said. “We’re always consistently working on techniques and fundamentals — just making sure that we’re locked in.”

With coach Mattox leading the O-line for the second year in a row, Norman says he is always finding things for the team to work on.

“He always wants us to improve so that we can be the best offensive line that we can be,” Norman said. “He always says that the offensive line is pretty much the engine of the entire offense. If we don’t run right, then nothing runs right.”

Even after an intense practice leading up to USF’s opener against Elon, Norman shows his true colors as a college student.

“I take naps and I watch Netflix, that’s what I do in my free time,” he said. “I just binge-watch shows. I see whatever is trending, I see if I like it, then I’ll watch an episode or two. If I don’t like it, I’ll move on to a different one.”