Meet Zane Norris
June 25, 2009
Two sport high school athlete Zane Norris decided to walk-on with Oregon State football to join the family atmosphere that Coach Mike Riley has developed over his tenure. Norris looks to make an impact this season as a back-up linebacker and on the special teams and looks to one day follow his brother Slade into the NFL.
What was it like to watch your brother (Slade Norris) get drafted in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders?
“It was a great experience. He’s always worked so hard and I was excited to see it finally pay off for him. We had a bunch of family and friends together and it was pure pandemonium. My mom was crying, people were screaming, it was pure pandemonium at my house. My brother, he got a call, and we didn’t think he was going to go in the fourth round, so he got the call and we all got silent. It was like, ‘oh my gosh, is this for real.’ He didn’t say anything and then we saw his name flash up on the screen and everyone was like, ‘ohhhhhhh.’ Everyone went crazy. It was good to see that all the hard work that he’s put in his entire life had paid off because he didn’t get that much recognition in the Pac-10 in the rankings so I was just happy to see that it finally paid off. He didn’t say anything after he got the phone he just sat there and smiled.”
What is it like being a walk-on at Oregon State?
“They treat you really well; Coach Riley does a good job with the walk-ons. They treat you just like a scholarship athlete. You’re treated exactly as one who got some money. I am really happy with what the program has done for me as a walk-on.”
What was it like trying to balance two sports, baseball and football, in high school at Jesuit?
“It was difficult. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do going into college yet so I was separating my time trying to figure out whether I wanted to go with baseball or football. It was difficult but at the same time it was a lot of fun because I love both sports so much.”
Did you have any thoughts to walk-on for both baseball and football?
“They wanted me to walk on for baseball but the thing is I was hoping for a scholarship. When I went for the official visit I decided I might as well play football. That’s what I decided in the end because my brother was telling me know great the program is. I just decided I don’t really want to play that much baseball. I love the sport but not that much. Once I got here and started playing football, I realized it’s the sport for me. It was the best decision I could have made.
What makes football that much better?
“It’s the program that we have here. Coach Riley creates such a family environment being on this team. Because we’re not only recruiting people who are not only good athletes but good people as well. When I got here people were so accepting and so nice and that’s the reason we’re becoming so successful because of what coach is doing with the program.”
Who is your favorite athlete?
“It would have to be LeBron James. He’s just a beast. I think he could go out into the NFL and be successful. I think it has to be him, he plays with swagger and he’s just a beast.”
What do you expect to contribute this coming year?
“I expect to get out onto the field and play a little bit of linebacker behind Keaton (Kristick) and learn a lot from him. He’s such a good player. He’s so experienced in the way he plays. I expect to play on special teams; I’m starting on two right now and I’m second string on the other two and I want to work my way up to be starting on all four.”
What are you learning from those around you and the coaching staff?
“From the more experienced guys I’ve always been told to play with experience and learn from their reps. Learn from what they do. I’ve been trying to take mental reps because you can’t always be out there because the first team is out there. Take mental reps and learn from what they do. They’re so experienced and so unbelievably good at what they do. It’s nice to have such a good linebacking corps ahead of you to learn from.”
What would you tell Beaver Nation to look forward to this season?
“I would say be ready because it’s going to be the best season yet. I really think so. We have been training hard and giving it everything we have in the offseason and I’ve just seen everyone get so much better. I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen this year.”
To catch up on all of the Meet the Beavers interviews from this season click here.
Beaver Fun Fact: Oregon State finished No. 18 in AP and No. 19 in USA Today Polls – one of 10 programs to be in the AP Top-25 in each of the last three seasons (USC, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia Tech, BYU, Penn State, Ohio State, Georgia).
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