(News4usonline) – Today’s catchphrase “built different “represents a higher purpose than the next man. It is a level that exceeds expectations. Malik Norman, a vicious pounding running back for West Los Angeles College, vibes this phrase in his mentality on and off the field.
After quitting football four years ago, Norman has never forgotten about the game. Football is in his heart of hearts just like his mom who is his biggest fan. She’s the one person who believes in him the most. She cringes when she watches him play but knows that the football field is one place her son is different.
She’s watched him since he was six years old, too small to play in stature, but he has always stood out over everyone else. When he was away from the game, Norman stayed prepared for a possible return to football. After taking classes at Santa Monica Community College, Norman felt the tug to play again.
As he yearned of getting back on the football field, a good friend of Norman suggested he not enroll there as a football player because he wouldn’t learn anything he didn’t already know. Playing there would not be in his best interest, the friend mentioned.
Norman took his friend’s advice and looked elsewhere to try to revive his football passion. For Norman, the desire to play football had picked up a couple of notches. He picked up the phone one day and decided to call West Los Angeles College.
Norman got the opportunity to speak with head football coach Marguet Miller. Miller told Norman to come on out. Since arriving on the campus of West Los Angeles College, the original conversation between the two men has been a blessing for both the player and coach.
On the field, Norman has gone out and shown that he is indeed “built different.” He started off this season with a breakout game, bursting out the gate against San Diego Mesa with a 99-yard effort in his team’s 42-20 defeat. Norman’s rushing total against San Diego Mesa on 15 carries, was just an appetizer to what he can do.
Norman went wild against Los Angeles Pierce College, rushing for 256 yards on 24 carries in a 36-7 win for West Los Angeles. Norman likely would have run for more yards but was pulled in the third quarter by Miller because the game was lopsided.
In Norman’s next outing, a 37-20 loss to Santa Barbara, the freshman running back was held to just 63 yards on the ground. Norman made up for that rough outing with a 164-yard, four-touchdown performance in West Los Angeles’ 47-40 win against Compton College.
Miller, a special education teacher, says Norman’s vision helps him excel running the football. Norman, as he describes him as a runner, is shifty with great vision. Norman’s vision on the field extends to the runner speaking with players on the team about being accountable and embracing the entire process.
He would know something about that. Being four years removed from high school, Norman says being more mature has played a role in his success.
“These young guys haven’t quite learned how to take this process seriously,” says Norman. “They show up late to meetings or don’t show. This doesn’t make a complete player.”
With that said, after defeating Compton College, West Los Angeles dropped two games in a row before stopping Los Angeles Southwest College with a 40-26 win. Norman rushed for 237 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. After seven games, West Los Angeles has posted a 3-4 record. For Norman, though, this season seems to have exceeded in many ways.
In seven games this season, Norman has already surpassed 1,000 yards for the season (1,133 yards) and is the leading rusher in the American Metro League, averaging just over 149 yards per game. His focus now is helping his team win more ballgames as they close out the season.
Play beyond the junior college grind requires a lot of patients and endurance for an “older guy who has those qualities.” Right now, Norman is playing like he is a man among boys, not just on the football field, but away from it as well. Miller has one more job for Norman and that’s to get more kids to listen on how to be successful by being more coachable.
Norman is working on that part. Winning more football games and graduating are in his thoughts now as well as serving a few meals in his part-time job at a local restaurant. Juggling class and work, along with his football obligations and community output, show that Norman is “built different.”
Ron Jenkins is a Los Angeles, California native. Ron used sports to escape the loss of his four brothers. Jenkins served in law enforcement for 30 years. He has a commitment to the community and working with young people. In 1987, Jenkins was the fourth leading receiver in the nation while attending school at Fresno State University. Jenkins uses journalism to inspire and uplift his community.