Warren Norman started the football season as one of three freshman running backs at Vanderbilt who had a chance to make an impact.
When the season was finished, he was No. 1 on several school and conference lists.
Then on Monday, he was tabbed as the one who stood out above all other first-year players in the Southeastern Conference. Norman, from Stone Mountain, Ga., became the second VU player in history named SEC Freshman of the Year by the Associated Press.
Cornerback Myron Lewis earned second-team all-conference honors, and linebacker Chris Marve was an honorable mention selection on defense.
“It’s quite an honor,” Norman said. “I just came in working hard, though. I didn’t really expect or come in looking for any awards or anything like that. I just came in and wanted to help the team win.”
The only other Commodore to earn the award was Kwane Doster, also a running back, in 2002.
Norman set an SEC record for kickoff return yards and kickoff returns for touchdowns in a season. He also broke the single-season conference record for all-purpose yards by a freshman, which was held by Herschel Walker of Georgia.
His all-purpose yards were a Vanderbilt record, regardless of class. Same for his 26.2-yard average on kickoff returns.
“Writers around our conference saw the same player that I had to privilege to watch and coach,” coach Bobby Johnson said. “Warren put together a tremendous year for us, both as a running back and kickoff returner. He was as productive as any player in the nation's best conference.
“I'm truly looking forward to watching Warren improve in the years to come.”
Norman was the Commodores’ leading rusher with 783 yards and tied with Zac Stacy (another freshman) for the team lead with three rushing touchdowns. He was one of six VU players to catch a touchdown pass, and his 19 receptions (for 108 yards) were fourth-most on the team.
“I figured I could come in and contribute (but) not necessarily do the things I’ve done,” Norman said. “I thought I could contribute and help the team get some wins.”