Warren Norman was the No. 1 freshman in the Southeastern Conference last season, according to multiple sources. He was not, however, the only freshman in Vanderbilt’s backfield.
Zac Stacy showed similar promise and big-play ability, and he actually outperformed Norman on a couple fronts.
For example, Stacy’s 133 rushing yards in the season-opening victory over Western Carolina held up as the most in a single game by any VU player in 2009. The 5-foot-9, 209-pound Stacy also had a 62-yard rushing touchdown against Georgia Tech, which was the Commodores’ longest running play of the season.
Slowed by an ankle injury, which caused him to miss two games and limited him in several others, Stacy finished the season with 478 rushing yards — the eighth-highest total ever by a Vanderbilt freshman.
Together, Norman and Stacy became the second pair of freshmen in school history to each rush for more than 450 yards. The first to do so was Jimmy Williams (527) and Jared McGrath (491) in 1997. A year later, Williams was a defensive back.
There are no plans for either Norman or Stacy to change positions. They now have a chance to become the most productive pair of sophomore rushers the ‘Dores have had.
Though nothing has been finalized, interim coach Robbie Caldwell said Vanderbilt’s football team will do something this season to remember and memorialize Rajaan Bennett, the most heralded member of the 2010 recruiting class and one of the most highly regarded players to sign with Vanderbilt in recent memory.
Bennett was murdered at his family home outside Atlanta in February. Police say his mother’s ex-boyfriend broke into the home, killed Bennett, then himself.
Bennett was a 3.8 GPA student as well as one of the primary caretakers for his brother, a special needs student in the 10th grade. He also was an all-state running back who was expected to add significantly to the depth the Commodores already had at that position.
“I just hate that the world is not going to get to know Rajaan Bennett,” Caldwell said. “Everybody on our staff just loved that young man [and] what he did.
“Just a tremendous tragedy. … A special young man.”