Warren Norman’s college career started off with a mad dash. It will end with a somber press conference.
Norman, the 2009 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year, is expected to announce the end of his Vanderbilt career due to knee injuries. The fourth-year junior running back will hold a press conference at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday on campus.
The news won’t come as a shock as Norman never regained form after he sustained season-ending wrist and knee injuries in 2010. The following offseason he underwent surgery on both but an ailing knee kept him sidelined all of 2011. The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder was used sparingly last season as the fourth option, rushing just 21 times for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Before the Music City Bowl two months ago, Norman said he planned onto return for his final year. But his wounded knees and current status on the team have likely factored into his decision to call it quits.
The team returns two of last year’s top three rushers, Wesley Tate and Brian Kimbrow. Redshirt sophomore Jerron Seymour is expected to return after missing 2012. Incoming freshman and three-star prospect Rapheal Webb also will fight for playing time.
Norman could transfer, but he is not likely to with one year of eligibility remaining. He is set to graduate in December with a degree in sociology.
“Waiting on some good news! #GottaBelieve,” Norman wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Norman showed immense promise as a freshman in 2009.
As a running back and kickoff returner he became just the second SEC Freshman of the Year in Vanderbilt history. He broke the SEC freshman records for all-purpose yards (1,941) and total kickoff return yards (1,050). He was the first freshman to lead the league in all-purpose yards since Georgia star Herschel Walker. Norman also matched the league record by returning three kickoffs for touchdowns.
Before his sophomore year began, he ran into trouble with his knees. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and missed the first two games. He returned to lead the team in rushing with 459 yards but in the eighth game of the season, against Arkansas, he fractured his wrist. He underwent two surgeries in the next three months — on his knee and wrist.
He finishes his career with 1,317 rushing yards on 243 carries and 12 total touchdowns. He also accumulated 1,660 kickoff return yards for the fifth-most in program history.
A soft-spoken, 22-year-old from Stone Mountain, Ga., Norman never voiced his displeasure over the last two seasons. When he couldn’t participate in spring drills in 2011 after his surgery, he still helped the team, standing in as a defensive back or linebacker.
Art Norman, who plays defensive end at North Carolina State, said it was even hard for him to get a read on what his younger brother was thinking. Before N.C. State played Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl in December, Art longed to see Warren back in his old form.
“It is just frustrating,” Art said. “He just really loves football so it is real frustrating for him that he can’t play like he wants to play. ... You can’t really get much from the outside from him. He is not going to show you. He is a team player. I’m sure it is affecting him. I’m sure he wants to be out there starting and playing as much he did his freshman year.”