When Florida State and Virginia postponed the game against Virginia on Nov. 28, athletics director David Coburn said only 44 scholarship players were available after contact tracing forced a number of players into quarantine.
But the new CDC guidelines, which have been adopted by the ACC, state that after seven days with no symptoms and a negative test at the end would allow someone to come out of quarantine. This has allowed a number of players to return to FSU’s practice, coach Mike Norvell said.
“That accelerated the amount of time where guys were able to get back,” Norvell said Wednesday. “It’s definitely helped us through the course of this week and who’s available, and the amount of practice reps that they’re able to get, rather than what was originally scheduled at 14 days. But being able to adapt the new CDC protocols, that’s benefited us for sure.”
Norvell has not stated how many players are practicing but it’s clear the guidelines have been beneficial. A positive test on Nov. 27, the day before the scheduled FSU-Virginia game, would have prompted contact tracing and potentially 14 days of quarantine — which would have been right up to the rescheduled date of Dec. 12 for the FSU-Duke game. Many of those scholarship players would have faced the potential of playing in a game without having practiced, if they were indeed cleared to play, under the old CDC guidelines.
The ACC has also gone to a testing protocol with its third weekly test on Thursdays, which should allow for medical advisors to consult with coaches and administrators early on Fridays. This would also help visiting teams as they won’t fly without the understanding that both teams are in the clear and ready to play.
“Being able to get those results earlier I think is going to be a huge benefit,” Norvell said. “The last two Friday nights, it’s been 11:30 p.m. calls. And the conversations have gone into the evening, just the availability of the games. So being able to have all that information there in front of us early Friday is definitely going to help in our confidence in preparation for game day.”
Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl but he clarified on Wednesday that he hasn’t made a final decision on whether he will return to FSU or enter the NFL Draft in 2021.
“I just accepted the offer,” Nasirildeen said. “I didn’t know when I took it that people were going to assume I was leaving. I was just accepting the offer because I thought it was prestigious to have it. I didn’t want to shrug it off and not say anything or thank them.”
Nasirildeen spent about 11 months rehabilitating his knee following an injury in Nov. 2019 during the Florida game. He returned in FSU’s recent game at NC State, recording four tackles. Nasirildeen said the layoff of nearly a month has been frustrating, admitting he wasn’t sure after the postponements if he would be able to play for FSU again. But he said he is looking forward to the chance to play against Duke and Wake Forest.
“I feel I should definitely be able to play a full game just because that first game back, I was still working back into practice and stuff, getting my reps up. With this time in between, it’s definitely been able to get me back into more football reps.”
Nasirildeen is considered one of the top draft-eligible safety prospects, despite coming off knee surgery. At the time of the Senior Bowl’s announcement via Twitter, the game’s executive director, Jim Nagy, posted: “One of the best chess piece defenders in ‘21 class will build plenty of buzz coming out of Mobile.”
The Senior Bowl will be played on Jan. 30.
Three FSU seniors — Nasirildeen, defensive end Janarius Robinson and linebacker Emmett Rice — spoke with the media on Wednesday. Each has the option to return in 2021 if they choose. Rice said the seniors have discussed their decisions.
“Yes, sometimes we do talk,” Rice said. “We know where we are. We have a saying,’ Be where your feet are.’ And of course we talk about the future and whatnot but at the end of the day we got to be where our feet are and our feet are here right now preparing to play Duke. So that is what we really focus on.”
There will not be a traditional on-field ceremony as in past years for seniors due to coronavirus.
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