However, those close to the program believed Norman would make his presence felt right away, and he did just that. Norman started eight games in 2011, leading the team with seven sacks while also totaling 10 tackles for a loss, and an astounding 30 quarterback pressures, which was twice as many as any other Pack player tallied.
"It was a bittersweet season for me individually," said Norman. "I had all those pressures, and that's really good, but I don't see it like that. I see it as that's 30 times I could have, should have had another sack. [Laughing] I tell myself that I should have had at least 37 sacks last season.
"I'm trying to focus on that more this year, getting to the quarterback. This year I think I should be better because I know where I'm going and last year i was trying to feel my way around. I'm much more confident and all in."
Norman recorded 57 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, and seven sacks as a senior at Chamblee (GA) High School, but he completely flew under the radar with the Wolfpack inking the two-star recruit in 2010. A major reason for the scant recruiting interest was Norman lacked the measurables most high-major colleges look for in defensive end prospects.
In high school he was 6-foot-1 and just over 225 pounds, but Norman, who has long arms and an explosive first-step, doesn't see that as a huge disadvantage. In fact, he feels his size can be a positive.
"As low to the ground as I am, I think that's my biggest advantage," said Norman. "I think it's harder for a taller lineman to get down and block me.
"Also, I try to focus on using my hands. I don't want anyone to touch me, and I think I can use my hands to prevent it from happening."
Now Norman, who checks in at 245 pounds, is ready to take his game to another level. He has added muscle and improved his fundamentals. Plus, NC State's additional depth will benefit him as well.
"The depth we have is outstanding," he said. "I'm looking forward to it because last year we didn't have as much depth. I felt like we had certain people in certain spots and you had to stay there.
"Last year I was the pass-rusher but had to play even more snaps because [Jeff] Rieskamp went down but this year we've got guys like Mike Rose and Forrest West playing as well. I feel like we can rotate and all be fresh and even more productive."
"Of the young guys, I've been really impressed by Mike Rose," Norman added. "He has stepped up this year. Last year he was just a freshman and now he is much more comfortable. Also, we have Kenderius Whitehead... he's really good too."
Norman believes that the defense is expected to be a strength for the Wolfpack this season. State isn't experienced at linebacker but returns plenty of talent along the defensive line and in the secondary.
He knows what he and the rest of the defensive linemen have to do.
"We've got to be able to pressure even more. That way we can have more guys in coverage... that's what we are hoping for. If he four defensive linemen get the pressure needed we won't have to blitz as much.
"We're all focused. It's about being all in for us, and we all want to top what we did last year in sacks. We want to get after the quarterback."