The Wolfpacker

March 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 49 of 95

W BY MATT CARTER ith the exception of Willie Young, NC State has not had dominant pass rushers coming off the edge of its defensive line since Tom O'Brien took over in 2007. That might be about to change, and lead- ing the way may be the most unlikely can- didate: rising redshirt sophomore defensive end Art Norman. In the class of 2010, Norman was the last NC State recruit to receive an offer from the Wolfpack. He was a two-star af- terthought on the recruiting trail, talking mainly to Football Championship Subdi- vision schools such as Samford, Coastal Carolina, Elon and Cornell. Norman admitted that prior to Ries- kamp's injury he was not expecting a ton of playing time. "Because I was behind Jeff Rieskamp the whole camp and spring as well, I expected to be a second-string kind of guy coming in just to pass rush," Norman noted. Defensive coordinator Mike Archer con- firmed Norman's thoughts. "There's no question, the plan for him was to be the backup, to plug him in for 20 snaps a game," Archer said. Norman wound up starting eight games and playing in all 13. "I feel like I progressed throughout the Art Norman's Ability To Pressure The Quarterback Shined In 2011 LEADING THE RUSH NC State defensive backs coach Mike Reed made a stop by Chamblee High in Stone Mountain, Ga., but not to scout Norman. Reed was actually there to see a player in the class below Norman. How- ever, Reed picked up Norman's film while there. Norman was not hard to notice on the tape. He had piled up 17 sacks combined as a junior and senior, and had 52 tackles for loss in his three years as a starter. But at 6-0, 225 pounds, he was considered under- sized for a BCS-level defensive end. State, however, liked the quickness and explosiveness Norman showed, and took a chance on him. Just two years later, the Wolfpack is already counting its blessings. Norman had 27 tackles, 10 stops for loss and a team-high seven sacks as a rookie in 2011. He also had an astounding 30 quar- terback hurries. "A lot of those could have been sacks," Norman pointed out. "That's why it kind of gets to me, 'Thirty pressures, really?' It's also an accomplishment, though." That Norman was able to come through for NC State was critical considering the slew of injuries that hit the defensive line. They started after week one, when starter Jeff Rieskamp, a fifth-year senior, hurt his shoulder. 50 ■ THE WOLFPACKER as many tackles and as many opportuni- ties to get sacks I did in the first half. I feel like I've grown as a football player, definitely I got the hang of college foot- ball I'll say. "I wouldn't call it regrets, but I still think about plays that I could've had, back in like Wake Forest, Cincinnati, that's still eating me to this day, but win some, lose some. I just think about that and that's just more reason to get better, and next year I won't have any of them." The fifth game of NC State's season was Georgia Tech in Raleigh. The Yellow Jack- ets are renowned for their triple-option at- tack. Norman had seen that offense a lot during his high school football days. He had a career-high five tackles in that game, and although none of them were for losses, he credited that performance for being a turning point in his season. "Georgia Tech was that light bulb for me," Norman stated. "I played really well that game. I didn't have any sacks, but that was the first game that I can say I legit had fun. I got past the whole you're a freshman, you're starting thing. I got past it. Just go out here and play football like I've been playing. "It was against the option, and that's how a lot of teams in Georgia run option. season," Norman said. "I feel like I had way more mistakes in the first four games, and then through the season I didn't miss I feel like I was more comfortable. I just went out there and had fun." Few performances though could match the display Norman put on against Clem- son Nov. 19. With the Pack facing a must-win situation against the nation's No. 7-ranked team and the eventual ACC champion, Norman had three sacks. "That definitely was the best game for me, definitely put me on the map," Norman said. "That was my highlight game of the year."

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