Sometimes an opportunity opens doors. Just ask Kansas' Moran Norris.
After being used primarily as a blocking fullback early in his career with the Jayhawks, Norris found himself as the go-to guy midway through his junior year. Preferring to run over and through rather than around opposing defenses (think: Mike Alstott), Norris displays the speed and vision needed to bounce plays to the outside.
Big things were expected from Norris in 2000, however, he was limited to seven games. He finished his senior year with 313 rushing yards and two touchdows.
The 6-foot-1, 250 pound Norris tore up Big 12 defenses the last six games of 1999. While rushing for 531 yards, he displayed soft hands and a knack for the end zone, scoring eight touchdowns.
"I consider myself a fullback who can play tailback as well," he said. "Whatever I'm asked to do is fine with me. It's my job."
Widely considered to be the best fullback prospect heading into the draft, Norris' strong work ethic, strength and willingness to play the tailback position is turning the heads of NFL personnel and players alike.
"Moran is the whole package," said New York Jets general manager Terry Bradway in the Wichita Eagle. "Speed, strength, good hands. He knows how to get behind his pads and run."
Norris' strength is legendary at Kansas. The senior captain more than doubled his body weight last summer by bench-pressing a school-record 540 pounds. At the scouting combine, he put on a show exhibiting his strength, benching 225 pounds an incredible 37 times.
"People have said that what I did was unheard of, but I was trying to get 40," he says laughing. "The guys at the combine were like 'whoa' when I was lifting. The scouts and coaches were impressed."
Having already completed the requirements needed to graduate, Norris has returned to Houston after spending three months working out in Louisiana. In May he'll join fellow seniors in Lawrence after earning a degree in business communication and crime and deliquency.
"I have 30 people coming in for the big one at the stadium," he said referring to his graduation date.
He owes his strong work ethic to his family, who provided the needed discipline at a young age to set him on the right path.
"My dad always told me if I worked hard, one day it would all pay off," he said. "He was right, I got a scholarship to Kansas and it worked out perfectly."
In addition to his parents setting the tone, Norris' brother, Graston, a former running back at Iowa State, is around to remind him of the job at hand.
"I just got off the phone with him and he is already asking me if I had worked out yet," Moran said. "I just arrived into town!"
Norris plans on sticking around Houston until his name is called by his new employer in April.
"What I have planned is to stay in topnotch shape," he said before excusing himself to head out to his parents' house. "But right now, I'm ready for some home cooking from my mother."