NORMAN — The Kittle name is pretty popular right now in Norman, and George Kittle is only starting to find out just how popular.
That tends to happen when your father, Bruce, is an assistant football coach at Oklahoma. And it tends to happen when you carve out a niche of your own on the football field for Norman.
But in Spain?
Yep. George's sister, Emma, is a member of the OU volleyball team and is visiting Spain and being bombarded by Sooner fans.
“They recognize the Kittle name and the Sooner colors,” George said.
That's a far cry from 12 months ago. The Kittle family knew it would be different moving from Iowa to Oklahoma. But all George Kittle could see were positives, starting with the biggest difference: passion.
“This place is just crazy about football,” Kittle said. “The entire community lives it, breathes it. It's perfect for me since I love the game so much.”
Passion alone won't get you on the list, but combine that with his production, and Kittle makes the cut at No. 30 for The Oklahoman's Super 30 list of the top football recruits for the class of 2012.
Growing hasn't hurt Kittle's cause, either. He finished his sophomore year at 6-foot but began his junior year at 6-foot-2.
He hasn't stopped. Kittle, now 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, has grown two inches and put on more than 20 pounds since the end of last season.
Kittle has gone from being known as Bruce's son to standing out on his own. George Kittle, who can play either wide receiver or defensive back, already has an offer from Air Force. Kittle had 23 receptions for 260 yards and five touchdowns last season, and he also had five interceptions on defense.
“He's a big leader for us,” running back Donovan Roberts said. “He understands the game so well and knows where everybody has to be.”
Kittle is the perfect symbol for the Norman team from last year. Like Kittle, nothing much was expected from the Tigers last year. But like Kittle, Norman surpassed everybody's expectations.
And now like Kittle, not content to just be good — time to be great. Norman snuck up on teams last year. That won't be the case this season.
Though Norman put itself back on the football map in 2010, Kittle said there are a couple of games circled on the calendar: Jenks and Broken Arrow.
The Tigers had to travel to both sites last year. The east side powers are coming to Harve Collins Field this time around.
“They're going to have to make the long bus ride, and they're going to have to be ready for our atmosphere,” Kittle said. “Our fans are awesome, and it's something we're really looking forward to.”
The Oklahoman's Super 30 No. 30 Name: George Kittle School: Norman Height: 6-4 Weight: 195 pounds Position: Wide receiver Offers: Air Force and receiving interest from several Big 12 schools