Former Buccaneers making an impact at the next level

MILFORD – For four former Milford High football stars – Tyler Norwood, Brion Murray, Greggory Clark and David Bowman Jr. – much of this summer has been spent preparing for the upcoming football season.

Norwood, a 2016 Milford graduate, is entering his junior season playing for the Salisbury University football squad.

Murray, a 2017 graduate, is getting ready to play his sophomore season at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan.

Clark, another 2017 graduate, is about to suit up for his sophomore season with the Wesley College football team in Dover.

Bowman, a recent 2018 graduate, is heading off to his first year of college ball at Delaware State University playing under first-year head coach and former Super Bowl champion Rod Milstead.

Tyler Norwood

Norwood is playing along the offensive line at SU. He originally started out at offensive tackle but was moved to guard at the end of last year.
Although he didn’t see the field as a freshman, he played in five games – including one start at the end of the season – as a sophomore in 2017.

“My freshman year I didn’t get any playing time and this past year I probably played in about five games, but towards the end of the season some players started getting hurt,” he said. “I think going into this season I have a pretty good chance of getting a starting spot along the offensive line.”

Norwood had a scholarship offer from Delaware State University, a Division II offer from Millersville University in Pennsylvania and went on a visit to Wesley, but ultimately decided on SU.

Tyler Norwood (77) in action for Salisbury University last season (Special to The Chronicle).

“I wanted to go to a good football program and I wanted to go to the best school academically and I felt like Salisbury was the best option for those two things,” he said.

Now that he’s gotten a shot at seeing the field, Norwood is as motivated as ever heading into the upcoming fall season.

“My mindset heading into the season, now that I’ve gotten the chance to play and start in a college football game, is to be able to start full-time,” he said. “This summer I’ve been hungrier than ever, so that’s my No. 1 goal right now, is to do whatever I have to do to get a starting spot.”

Brion Murray

Although he was redshirted as a freshman last season and was only allowed to practice with the team, Murray says he made great progress throughout his freshman campaign at Coffeyville Community College.

“I went out there a little late, I didn’t go out there until after the fall season had started so that’s probably why I got redshirted,” he said. “My progression in practice went really well, halfway through the year they actually wanted to pull my redshirt.”

While he was a two-way player at both receiver and defensive back in high school, Murray is playing cornerback at Coffeyville.

“The adjustment went smoother than I thought,” he said of the transition from high school to college. “From a technique standpoint, and all the learning and terminology on defense, that was the part that took a while to learn.”

Brion Murray is excited to hit the field for Coffeyville CC this fall (Special to The Chronicle).

Coffeyville has churned out a long list of NFL players over the years, including names such as Mel Gray, two-time Super Bowl champion Brandon Jacobs, Reggie Nelson and Ryan Lilja.

“They are really hard on you and they tell you straight up how it is – they’re not going to sugarcoat anything,” Murray said of the Coffeyville football program. “There are a lot of in-your-face things that you have to handle on your own. You have to grow up fast, they’re not there to babysit you.”

Heading into the sophomore season of a two-year program, Murray is battling for a starting spot for the 2018 campaign.

“Every day I have to prepare myself mentally and physically, so it’s a lot of taking care of your body and going out there with the mindset that I’m going to out-work the man next to me. Coaches see that and they take notice of that,” he said.

“We have a legit shot at winning the national championship, so my goal – other than my personal goals – is to win a national championship. Everything else is going to come with that. I’m just going to go out there and give it my very best effort every time.”

Gregg Clark

Clark, a two-way player with the Bucs in high school, entered the Wesley football program as a freshman last year and was able to make an immediate impact.

That’s not something every freshman can say.

Gregg Clark blocks a defender during a game last season (Special to The Chronicle).

“I think my freshman season went pretty well actually,” Clark said. “Being able to go into the program as a freshman and getting a remarkable amount of playing time – I was able to play probably about eight of the 12 games of our season – it was pretty great. It was cool to go in and show the coaches what I was capable of and how much training I put in over the off-season to be able to get the amount of playing time I had.”

Clark played guard last year and will likely continue at the guard position heading into his sophomore season this fall.

“The adjustment from high school to the college level wasn’t too hard actually. I feel like I was pretty well-acquainted,” he said. “My first time playing, of course, I had nerves because it was my first game of college football. People of course are going to be bigger, faster, stronger, so you have to bring your ‘A’ game and be prepared for that.”

The Wesley football program took a devastating hit over the off-season, as head coach Mike Drass tragically passed away, at the age of 57, on May 14. Clark and his teammates plan to play the 2018 season for coach Drass.

“It’s been really hard for a lot of us,” he said. “It actually has given us one heck of a fire to really show out for this next season. I think we’re playing for the best interest of coach Drass.”

Clark has been hitting the weight room hard over the off-season in hopes of solidifying a full-time starting role along the offensive line.

David Bowman Jr.

Bowman, a two-way All-State selection and full-time starter on both sides of the football, just graduated from Milford High at the end of May and has received a full-ride scholarship to Delaware State University to continue his football career.

He completed his senior season at Milford with a Div. II state championship appearance last December and was selected to play in the annual DFRC Blue-Gold All-Star game at University of Delaware in June.

Bowman drags a handful of defenders with him during June’s Blue-Gold All-Star Football game (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

It was a quick turn-around for Bowman, as just days after the Blue-Gold game he was reporting to DSU for his summer workouts.

He hopes to make an immediate impact on either side of the football as soon as he hits the field for the first official day of fall practice.

“What he does off the field, in the classroom and the weight room, it all impacts the way he plays on the field the way he puts the work in and gets the results. It sets him apart,” current Milford head coach Shaun Strickland said, of his work ethic, during Bowman’s college signing back in April.

Playing for Strickland

All four boys, having played at least one year under head coach Shaun Strickland, believe the coaching staff helped prepare them for the next level.

“My senior year [at Milford], his first year coaching, he definitely made me feel really confident as a player,” Norwood said. “He helped me learn that I could play at the next level, which before I was unsure of and I feel like he got us into the weight room a lot. He was very helpful in the recruitment process. Every day he was talking to coaches for me, vouching for me and giving me a chance to talk to a coach from a school.”

“It took me a little bit longer to decide [on a college] because I didn’t know if I wanted to play football or basketball. Strickland gave me the confidence that I could play at the highest level, so I took a shot at Coffeyville because there’s a real opportunity there to go Division I. Every day he would talk to more and more coaches for me.”

“I think coach Strickland and all the high school coaches helped out with preparing me for the adjustment from high school to college football,” said Clark.

The group of Milford graduates grew up playing sports together and truly enjoy seeing their fellow classmates branching out and seeing success at the next level.

“When I was a junior and senior, watching Gregg and David, I knew they were going to be really good. So, seeing their high school careers go as well as they did and to see them go off and play college football is pretty cool,” said Norwood.

“Seeing Andrew Marshall get a shot at the NFL is really cool to see too, just knowing that he’s putting Milford on the map for us,” Clark added.

Marshall, a 2014 Milford graduate, played two seasons at Valdosta State University and received a mini camp try-out from the San Francisco 49ers earlier this summer.

Clark, Norwood, Murray and Bowman wouldn’t mind seeing a similar fate in the near future.

As far as what the boys miss most about high school football: the teammates and the Friday night games.

“I like playing on Saturdays, but nothing could compare to playing under the Friday night lights in front of your whole town,” Norwood said.

Murray’s Coffeyville Red Ravens open the 2018 campaign at home against Iowa Western Community College Thursday, Aug. 23. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.

Norwood’s SU Sea Gulls squad opens the 2018 season at home against Albright Friday, Aug. 31. It’s a 7 p.m. kick-off.

Clark’s Wesley Wolverines open the season at home against Delaware Valley Friday, Aug. 31. Kick-off is currently slated for 7 p.m.

Bowman’s DSU Hornets kick the season off Saturday, Sept. 1 at Buffalo. It’s a 6 p.m. kick-off.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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