Where are they now? Slade Norris
Norris was cut by the Jaguars in August, but is holding hope that he’ll get another chance
Published: Monday, October 31, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 21:07
The National Football League lockout brought some positive changes to the league and helped out a lot of players.
Unfortunately, Slade Norris wasn't one of those players.
The former Oregon State defensive end has been converted to linebacker at the professional level and the transition has been a tough one. Norris had off-season plans of working out with his linebackers' coach in Jacksonville but the lockout prevented those plans from happening.
"I definitely think that had the lockout not occurred, all the one-on-one time I would have had with my coach would have changed me as a player," Norris said.
Norris mentioned how much the players gained because of the lockout but the irony of situation wasn't lost on him. This was the same lockout that could be blamed for his current situation.
Unable to get the coaching that would have helped him so much, Norris was cut from the Jaguars' roster during the third week of fall camp this season. Norris has never really been able to settle down and get comfortable in the league, playing on a total of three teams since being drafted in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders in 2009.
After his successful career at Oregon State — 19 sacks between the 2007 and 2008 seasons — Norris is at a low point in his football career.
"Picked up and cut, picked up and cut," said Norris, referring to the lack of stability he's had in the two years he's been in the league. "It's just like any other job, when things aren't going well you just have to keep your head up."
Despite being in the doldrums, Norris hasn't given up on his goal of making it in the NFL. His agent continues to contact teams, keeping Norris's name out there. Today, actually, Norris is in Tennessee working out for the Titans. He has been lifting, running and doing yoga at his home in Washington to stay in football shape.
"It's nice because my little brother is back here (in Oregon) with me and we're going in and working out everyday together. He's a good workout partner," Norris said.
Norris is no stranger to adversity in his football career. Originally a walk-on at Oregon State, he toiled for two years before being granted a full scholarship.
"I had so many high points at Oregon State at so many different times," Norris said.
The success of the team while he was there is a testament to Mike Riley's abilities as a coach.
"We are never gonna be the most athletic team, never gonna get the best recruits but I think the players Mike Riley brings in and the trust that develops between them is what makes them so successful," Norris said.
Norris is still close to his former teammates, especially his DE counterpart Victor Butler who has had some success as a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.
"Every game I watch I got a buddy out there that I can root for," Norris said referring to the high amount of Beaver players in the NFL these days.
In fact, Norris was one of seven Beavers drafted in 2009, the second highest total of any university that season.
Butler has done well playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Players like Norris and Butler, because of their pass rush abilities, are better suited to play in a 3-4 as opposed to a 4-3.
Unfortunately, Norris was drafted by a team who ran a 4-3 defense, further adding to the learning curve in the league that he had to overcome.
As Norris continues to work out and pursue his dream, it is hard for him not to be frustrated.
When asked if he is happy where he is now, Norris replied with a laugh, "At home? No."
He is forced to spend his Sundays on the couch watching football instead of being able to suit up and get out on the field.
"I love watching football but I see these guys out there and I want to be out there," Norris said, his frustration apparent in his voice. "I know I could do what they are doing."
Norris has a love/hate relationship with football right now, but he also has a plan to make it in professional football.
"I know I'm a great special teams player," Norris said. "If I can develop myself into a decent backup linebacker for now and then eventually get that starting spot, I can have a few more years of fun."
Alex Crawford, sports writer