By Gene Phelps
Football players hate practice-ending conditioning drills commonly known as “gassers” or “wind sprints.” Not Alex Norwood.
Tupelo’s senior wide receiver ran all-out every sprint at the end of Monday’s first day of fall practice.
“That’s it, Alex!” screamed Golden Wave wide receivers coach Fred Hadley, as he watched from a distance. “I’m anxious to see what he can do this year. He’s busting his butt.”
Norwood, who has played quarterback and receiver the last two seasons, is expected to be big-play weapon this year. In 2013, he caught 11 passes for 129 yards and one touchdown in his first year at wideout. He shared quarterback duties his sophomore season and accounted for 809 yards total offense and four TDs.
He’ll likely be the backup for starting quarterback Daniel Bristow, but catching passes is his No. 1 priority.
“He’s a really good threat,” Golden Wave head coach Trent Hammond said. “He’s a kid we’ve got to get the ball to.”
Norwood, at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, is excited about the prospects of being a key contributor in his team’s up-tempo offense.
“I think my first year at receiver will make me better this year,” he said. “Playing quarterback also helped me understand the receiver position.”
Hadley, a former college and professional wide receiver, likes what he has seen from Norwood in games and on the practice field.
“He has really worked hard at his game,” Hadley said. “He’s worked on technique, getting off the ball and with his route running. He’s doing all the little things to get better.”
Norwood has also worked to improve his speed, using ankle weights, resistance bands and dragging tires. He witnessed the results of his work June 19 when he ran a 4.42 during a one-day camp at Ole Miss.
“He made sure I knew,” Hadley said, then laughed.
Norwood’s dream is to play college football on some level. Hadley is confident his pupil will get the opportunity.
“He’s a well-round athlete,” the coach said. “He’s going to surprise a lot of people this season.”
Norwood’s plans are to remain humble and keep working hard. “I’ll get there,” he said.