Aug. 19, 2010
Moran Norris (football, 1997-00)
Norris is currently preparing to start his 10th season in the NFL and his fourth with the San Francisco 49ers. Norris arrived at KU as a tight end, but shifted over tailback/fullback his junior year where he saw great success. He finished his Jayhawk career with 864 career rushing yards on 199 carries (4.3 avg.) with 10 TDs. Norris also added 17 receptions for 87 yards and one TD. He rushed for 313 yards and two TDs as a senior, earning third-team All-Big 12 honors. Norris rushed for career-high 537 yards and eight scores as a junior, splitting time between fullback and tailback. Norris was a fourth round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2001 and played there for three seasons before being picked up by his hometown Houston Texans. He suited up for the Texans for three seasons before making his move to the Bay area. Norris currently makes his permanent home in Houston with his wife Tamara and daughter London.
At what age did you start playing football?
I was six when I first starting playing football. It was little league football. I played for the Brentwood Rams. I started out playing offensive line and linebacker.
What/who inspired you to be a football player?
My older brother, Graston (who played running back at Iowa State 1993-96) played football and I always wanted to be just like him. Also, my dad was one of the coaches and he got me involved.
What led to your decision to go to KU?
I wanted to get out of Texas and do something different. I didn’t want to play some place close and be tempted to go home every weekend. I wanted to go some place I could grow up, mature and be on my own. After I started looking around it just didn’t get any better than Kansas. Not only was football a good fit for me, but it was an opportunity to get a great education.
You came to KU as a tight end and eventually moved to fullback, was that a difficult transition for you?
At first it was a pretty difficult transition, but I had a great coach at the time and he helped me out a lot. He made the transition much better. My work ethic helped out a lot. I was always known as a hard worker and I think that is part of why the coaches had confidence I could make the change.
Did you ever think you would have this long of a football career?
No. Never. I really didn’t see an NFL career in my future until after my junior year in college. That is when the NFL was realistic goal. I am very blessed to have been able to stay in the league this long and continue playing the game I love.
You started the Moran Norris Follow Me Foundation, talk a little about what made you decide to start your foundation?
I used to do a lot of volunteer work at KU through the CHAMPS/Lifeskills program. I was selected to go to the NCAA Leadership conference and it opened my eyes to a lot of things. I really enjoy doing charity work and I always wanted to help kids and give back to the community.
What events do you have with your foundation?
My foundation is primarily in my hometown of Houston. It is designed to provide students, parents, and teachers with programs and resources to combat the challenges associated with various types of behavioral problems. The foundation’s success in these areas is attributed to such programs as the annual “Follow Me” Football Camp, Shopping for Good Character, Pay Now Play Later, and Athletes for Art.
Each year we have a football camp and a fundraising dinner.
Your wife runs your foundation, how is it having her as a “boss”?
It is great working with her (Tamara Norris). If it was someone else I would probably not be so attentive to what is required to having a good foundation, but since it is my wife I have to! I know how to pick and choose my battles and she does a great job of running it. I could not do it without her.
Have you met any KU fans in San Francisco? How do you keep up with KU football/athletics?
I meet Kansas fans out here a lot. Last Sunday after our preseason game in Indianapolis, I saw guy with KU shirt on. I went over and spoke with him. It seems like there are Jayhawks everywhere! I keep up with several of my KU teammates via email and on the phone. I always check the up on the football team’s progress and know how they are doing via the KU website. I am excited to see how Coach Gill does with the program.
What is your fondest playing memory from your KU days?
Ironically, I would say all those mornings of getting up at 6 a.m. and working out as a freshman. Even though it was really tough, it was a great bonding time. As far as a game memory, playing against K-State my junior year. It was the first game I really got to carry the ball a lot. I had a touchdown and that game really put me on the map, even though we lost.
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