He stands at 5'10 according to most. He was named a Parade All American during his senior season at Hart Academy. He runs one of the faster 40 times on the Fresno State Bulldogs. He sits the bench as the backup to Tom Brandstater. Of course I am speaking of our 5' 10" wonderkid Sean Norton. Yesterday it was reported in the Fresno Bee that Sean Norton has mono and will likely miss the rest of the season. In a normal season I might hear of this and think nothing of it. During a normal season I might sit back and relax thinking "I hope he gets better for next season". However, this season something like this worries me more than ever before. Sean Norton contracting mono seems to have come at an opportune time for head coach Pat Hill. Now Pat Hill does not have to deal with the media and fans wondering why he continues to try to turn Tom Brandstater into a starter. Pat Hill will not have to face questions as to why he did not enter Norton into the game after he struggled in the first half against Idaho. The only backup we have now is Christensen and there is no way he gets into the game unless there is a blow out either way which is unlikely. I know many of you might find a problem with me looking at this as a suspicious situation but you may want to check into Matt James article today in the Fresno Bee. He mentions the numbers behind each quarterback and how it is amazing that Pat Hill is so insistent on turning Brandstater into a starter.
However, the focus of this blog is not on what Pat Hill or Tom Brandstater has done this season. Instead it is on the personality of Sean Norton and how he has handled a terrible situation. To this date I cannot remember Norton speaking out one time against the Bulldogs and how his situation has been handled. To this date I cannot remember hearing Norton say one thing against the university of Fresno State or the head coach Pat Hill. We as Bulldog fans should recognize the team player Sean Norton has been this season. He has lived with what quite possibly could be the worst situation a QB can go through at a university and has done nothing but waited for his chance to shine. When Norton has been put into the game he has not faltered as badly as most want to make it out to be. If you feel like a 59% completion rate and 3 to 1 td to int rate is a bad start then you are not paying attention. Norton brought a different type of QB to the game as he not only would throw the ball deep but would give the Bulldogs a QB who could roll out and hit receivers while on the run. Against LSU Norton had three very good throws dropped that would have put him near 200 yards for the game. Moore, Williams, and Kinter all dropped very good passes and Norton was viewed as a inefficient QB for completing 65% of his passes against the number one defense in the nation. Norton would then be pulled at halftime against Boise State after he completed 50% of his passes as he was only given the opportunity to throw ten passes in the first half. In other words Sean Norton received the rawest of all possible deals from head coach Pat Hill.
Did Norton complain to the public or the media when he was taken out of the game before he should have been? Did Norton whine to the public when Hill unfairly took his one shot at being the starter away from him? No, Norton remained calm and accepted what Hill had done. The funny thing is Sean Norton exemplifies everything that Pat Hill is about when recruiting players to his team. He is undersized with a big heart and skills that make him a great prospect at QB. He was often overlooked by other colleges because of his size and that is exactly the kind of player Pat Hill looks to find out there for Fresno State. For some unknown reason Pat Hill has shunned Norton throughout the season and every one of us as Bulldog fans have seen this taking place. Brandstater has not outplayed Norton. Hell, Brandstater has not outplayed any QB he has taken the field against this season. He has regressed every game to the point that the Bulldogs have been almost embarrassing to watch on the football field yet Norton still would not receive a fair shot at the QB position.
I want to say thank you to Sean Norton for the efforts he has put forth for this team. I want to say thank you to Sean Norton for the way he has handled an awful situation. If you were at a job and in line for the next promotion but were passed over for someone you knew didn't deserve it how would you feel? I am pretty sure I would be upset if that happened to me and that is exactly what Sean is experiencing right now. Norton is everything we want in a Bulldog and this situation may unfortunately force him to move elsewhere in his pursuit to start for a college team. I wish Norton the very best in whatever direction he decides to go whether it be here with the Bulldogs or on the road with another team. I have to say that if Norton transferred to a school like Sacramento State and returned to Fresno one day there would be a big part of me hoping he would tear a hole into our defense just to show Hill he screwed up by passing on Norton. Dinwiddie did it to us three years in a row in Boise and Norton seems to be the exact same type of player. Sean Norton will succeed wherever he plays if he is given a fair shot at playing, but here in Fresno he will not receive that shot this season, next season, or the one after that. Hill has made up his mind and there is just no one with enough backing to step in and tell him he is wrong which in turn seems to be the biggest problem this season. As I have said before as long as Hill is stubborn with his "my way" only attitude the Dogs will not win again under him. Trust me, this much is true.
Note - I am sure most of you are against this but I think Jordan Christensen should trot out onto the field as the starter this weekend. No I don't think he should play the entire game or even a series for that matter. However, it is his last game at home and although he did not pan out the way Hill hoped he would he did play a large role as the special teams holder. He also stuck around knowing there was no chance he would ever play and for that I believe he deserves to at least take one snap as the starter, even if it is to hand the ball off. I just believe in honoroing those seniors who stay true to the program. Regardless it isn't like he could do any worse than Brandstater right?