TNF, McGuire and Dad helped power Cougar OL walk on Drew Norvell this spring

HOW VALUABLE are Mike Leach’s Thursday Night Football sessions in terms of developing young talent? Plenty, as in the case of Drew Norvell, a second-year walk on offensive lineman at Washington State.

Out of Bellingham’s Sehome High, Norvell (6-4, 293) began to get more and more reps in TNF as last year went along. He did well enough that o-line coach Clay McGuire moved him up this spring to running mostly with the 2’s.

But with starting right tackle Cole Madison missing some time this spring with an apparent injury, Eduardo Middleton moved out to the edge and Norvell suddenly found himself running with the 1’s a good amount of reps.  Not bad for a second year walk on.

“I think I improved a lot last year in (TNF) and I’m focused on improving a lot again this year. I’m not sure if it was just one point, it was gradual,” said Norvell.

Norvell’s dad is Bob Norvell, a former Cougar offensive lineman (1989-90). The two often compare notes.

“I talk to him all the time -- he’s helped me throughout and has given me advice on what to do and how to play at the college level,” said the younger Norvell. “He’s definitely been a huge support.

“Coach McGuire has been great, coaching me up on everything he possibly can.  After every rep, he talked to me about what I need to improve on.”

The biggest adjustment at this level, Norvell says, has been mental.  The level of intensity and focus required compared to playing high school football is night and day, he says.  It’s also the key ingredient to being a good o-lineman in the Air Raid, he adds.

“For me, (spring position meetings) were mostly about assignment stuff… what I’m supposed to be doing each play and after that, fundamentals: keeping my head back on pass pro, taking a better set,” said Norvell.

Norvell said Robert Barber and Hercules Mata’afa were the two toughest d-linemen he faced this spring.

“Robert Barber, just because he’s so explosive, and Hercules, because he’s so quick and aggressive. But we have a really good d-line so it’s hard to single guys out,” said Norvell.

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