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SU Football: Norton Knows Now Or Never

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Ryan Norton is once again pushed into the role of starting kicker, but this time it's personal.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

We all were saddened last weekend to learn injury would force Ross Krautman, A.K.A. "Das Boot," into early retirement. A legendary nickname gone before he could truly cement himself a legendary kicker (although, Das Boot did have himself some big kicks in his too-short career). But out of the gloomy clouds rises a most orange silver of linings: Ryan Norton has a chance for redemption.

And Norton, sans cool German-ish nickname, says he's ready to show what he's really got.

"I want to be as good as I can be for myself and for this team. I want to be a team player and do everything I can for the team, and I want to show everyone what I can do and keep up the expectations for the players as everyone does for each other."

Norton is now the next man up to be starting kicker, presumably, for Scott Shafer's Syracuse Orange. It's a role Norton held for 10 games last season. It's a role he struggled with last season, too. Considering Norton hit just three of his six field goal attempts from forty or more yards away. Not to mention, Norton had that whole suspended-for-the-Wake-Forest-game-after-being-arrested-for-underage-drinking thing last year as well.

Actually, let's not forget what transpired that fateful night last fall:

According to the document, Norton was approached by officers after he was observed with an open 24-ounce can of Bud Light near Acropolis Pizza and, when approached, told officers, "I'm not going anywhere."

Them's some Dukes-of-Hazzard fightin' words right there!

And while Bo Duke was also subsequently held out of April's spring game for a classic "undisclosed violation of team rules," the Bud Light pounding, police back-talking, kicker says all of the off-field stuff is in the past.

"I just try to focus on what the real team things about me and just trying to go forward. I love being a part of the team. It's my favorite thing. Love it. couldn't imagine without it."

In all reality, Norton wasn't that bad in 2013 -- making 10 of his overall 15 attempts. For a backup kicker in a program trying to turn things around, those aren't putrid numbers. Still, Norton is likely to beat out Alex Hodkinson and Cole Murphy for the job, which means he will clearly have to be more consistent on the field (especially from long range) and off the field, too. 2014 being a success or a failure for Syracuse could very well depend on it.

I mean, really, this is a classic sports movie happening right in front of us, isn't it? Hard-drinking, hard-nosed, badass kicker battles authorities and himself. Down to his final shot, he overcomes all while taking home the head cheerleader and our hearts in the process.