After decades in the coaching industry, Farasi Norman has helped guide several New York Giants to the NFL.
Wether it’s playing running back in the Semi-Pro Leagues or coaching future NFL stars like Antonio Brown, there aren’t many who have done more within the game of football than Farasi Norman.
A former NCAA Division II linebackers coach and American Indoor Football League front office manager, he knows the ropes of the game and has helped a few players make it to the Big Apple to play for the New York Giants.
“I first met Jessie and Micheal in Dallas, Texas. We grew up in the same neighborhood called Dallas Oak Cliff. We played little league football together in the parks, and on the streets in front of our houses. I could not tell they both would end up in the NFL at that time, but we always talked about becoming the next super stars of the NFL,” recalls Norman on his time spent growing up with the two future Giants linebackers. “At the time we were growing up, the Southwest Conference was the best conference in college football, and so we always talked about playing football there one day. Before any of that could happen, we were all headed to Carter High School to play for head coach Freddie James. Coach James was a god in our community. Every one wanted to play football for him. I ended up moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico, but would visit Dallas, Texas often to hang out with the guys and talk football.”
While Norman moved on, both his friends would go on to be stars for the University of Miami (with Barrow earning All-American honors). Both would also end up being selected in the 1993 NFL Draft.
Armstead was drafted by the Giants, racking up five Pro Bowl selections and four All-Pro nods during his NFL career, which ended with an induction into the Giants’ Ring of Honor.
Barrow was drafted by the Houston Oilers, playing with Big Blue from 2000-2003. Barrow’s career highlight came during his 2003 campaign with the Giants in which he lead the NFC with 150 total tackles on the year.
Though his friends went on to experience NFL stardom and coaching gigs in the league (Armstead with the Giants and Barrow with the Seattle Seahawks), Norman’s coaching career would not be fast tracked by a stint in proffesional football.
After a few years playing Semi-Pro football, he landed a job with New Mexico Military Institute Junior College where he would attempt to recruit former Giants’ cornerback Zack Bowman.
“He was playing high school football in Alaska because his father was in the military,” recalled Norman of recruiting Bowman. “As a coaching staff we all agreed to offer him a scholarship. He turned out to be the best football player and overall athlete the college has ever had.”
As a Giant in 2014, Bowman started five games, had 24 tackles, six passes defended, and recorded two interceptions. During his eight year NFL career, Bowman picked off 13 passes and was a special teams stud.
Many college programs saw his eventual NFL caliber talent on display during his time at the New Mexico Military Institute. When it came time for Bowman to select a school, Norman was amazed how he wasn’t overwhelmed with the around the clock attention he received from recruiters.
“I remember when it came time to get him recruited, and major colleges were calling him all day all night,” said Norman. “We were getting ready to load the bus, and the University of Oklahoma called. Zack hands me the phone, and says ‘Coach Norman please talk to this guy for me,’ and so i did. I must of answered a dozen or more calls on our ride to and from the game, all from Division 1A schools.”
Still, the ride of fielding calls for hours on end was no trouble for the coach. Norman had nothing but good things to say about Zach’s on and off field character, noting it was “no surprise a world class organization like the New York Giants went after Zack.”
“Great kid, and even better young man,” continued Norman on Zack. ” His mother and father did a great job raising him, he was just a pure pleasure to be around. He made coaching fun.”
Bowman eventually would settle on playing the remainder of his collegiate football career at the University of Nebraska, before being drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2008. His seven year run in the league would include 205 total tackles, 29 pass deflections, and 13 interceptions.
As his star player moved on, so did Norman, his next stop being in 2005 at Hutchinson Community College where he would help train yet another player destined to one day wear Big Blue.
Nehemiah Warrick, cousin of former fourth overall pick and Florida State great Peter Warrick, came to Norman as a talented and hard hitting safety looking to use his time at Hutchinson as a stepping stone to make it to the next level.
He would become the team’s second leading tackler in 2005, adding two interceptions on the year as he made his way to a NJCAA first-team All-American selection.
“He was very focused on becoming better than his cousin, and making it to the NFL,” said Norman. “After our first day of practice in August 2005, I knew then he was special, and had a talent that would take him where he dreamed of going which was Division 1A, and then the NFL.”
Warrick would finish his time at Hutchinson as a heavily recruited star. Eventually choosing to attend Michigan State, he never turned into the electrifying playmaker many scouts had pegged him to be at the next level.
Still, Warrick did turn heads as a run stuffing strong safety which intrigued the Giants enough to bring him on as a undrafted free agent in 2008.
“Nehemiah, or NEMO as we all called him, was one of the most talented defensive back I ever coached,” remembers Norman. “I looked forward to my conversations with the young man on the football field, in the weight room, and on campus because he was just so clearly knowledgeable about the game of football. His whole mind set, set him apart from the other athletes on the team. He was very respectful at all times. His work ethic was incredible. He is one that I will always remember.”
As Coach Norman moves on to his next coaching stop, this time overseas to become the head man of a European Football League club, he hopes he is far from done guiding even more NFL hopefuls to achieve their dreams.