ZEPHYR — After helping lead the Zephyr Bulldogs to a state semifinals berth and state quarterfinals berth the past two seasons, senior Bishop Norman is making the move from the six-man ranks to college football.
Norman on Tuesday signed a letter of intent to play football for Mary Hardin-Baylor, which is coming off its first NCAA Division III national championship season.
“It’s pretty great and something I knew all along I wanted to do,” Norman said. “A few doubts came in along the way, but now I’m finally able to do it.”
Norman chose UMHB over Texas State and Abilene Christian, who also showed significant interest.
“Abilene Christian and Texas State, I was really interested in those two for sure, but Mary Hardin-Baylor was my first choice,” Norman said. “I just stuck with it. I went and visited and really liked the coaches.”
During his junior and senior campaigns, Norman rushed for more than 4,200 yards with nearly 70 touchdowns. He was also a dangerous threat both throwing and catching the ball, and a standout on defense as well, earning all-state accolades both seasons.
“We’re for sure going to miss him. He was the team leader, offensive leader, defensive leader and had a high motor,” said Zephyr head coach Shannon Williams. “It’s awesome any time you get a kid to go to the next level. It doesn’t matter where they go, what division it is, it’s pretty awesome. You just hope that kid is prepared and understands the importance of the next level because it’s a job. It’s still fun, but it’s a job now.”
Norman stated he doesn’t know which position UMHB will have him playing as a freshman.
“They haven’t really said anything, I’m just going to work hard the same as I did when I was a freshman in high school,” Norman said. “I’m going to work hard and try and impress somebody. I’m willing to play anywhere they need me to.”
Williams believes Norman — who measures 6-foot, 230 pounds — could start off playing outside linebacker or running back. In the long run, “when it’s all said and done I could see him on the defensive line, a lot bigger than he is now,” Williams said.
Graduating from a six-man school, Panther Creek, and going on to play college football himself at Howard Payne, Williams offered Norman words of advice on the impending transition.
“When I graduated from Panther Creek I came from state championship teams and went to Howard Payne and didn’t have a clue what was going on,” Williams said. “During those times Howard Payne had a lot of success and expectations were pretty big. It’s a learning curve for sure. It took me two years, but finally my junior and senior year were a lot of fun.”
Norman expressed gratitude for Williams and all the head coach has done to help on and off the field.
“Coach Williams is great and really helped me a lot and I didn’t know it,” Norman said. “He did a lot of behind the scenes work and I appreciate him a lot for it.”
As for his most cherished memories at Zephyr, it’s not the individual accolades or games themselves — Norman simply thrived on being part of a team.
“It’s a big part of Zephyr, football is, so just being with the team, working with them and building something with them was pretty great,” Norman said.
Norman — who plans to eventually teach history and coach — is looking forward to the same team bonding moments at Mary Hardin-Baylor, though adding some jewelry would certainly be welcome.
“Some national championships and big rings would be nice, but I like the team atmosphere and team building,” Norman said, “and I’m excited about doing it four more years.”