Mike Norvell has a very small window of time to make an impression on Florida State commitments and prospective recruits.
How narrow? Try one week.
It’s why Norvell met with a few recruits on Sunday and was on the road Monday.
“That’s all of our focus,” Norvell said. “It’s an exciting time. But the reality is, in recruiting it all comes down to relationships. That’s going to be something that has to be built. The great thing is I’ve done it before. When I look the job at my last institution, it was a quick turnaround as well. Had about the same amount of time to put together a class.”
The introductions are being made, with FSU assistant coaches accompanying Norvell on the road as he makes trips to visit 2020 commitments and prospects. FSU has 13 commitments in the class of 2020, many of which will choose to make a decision during the early signing period – which begins in one week on Dec. 18.
FSU’s commitments built relationships with Willie Taggart and the coaching staff. Norvell will need to secure as many of those 13 commitments as he can and look to grab a few undecided prospects or produce some last-minute flips.
At the top of the to-do list is to meet with the most critical pieces of the class. Norvell has met with a large group, including quarterback Jeff Sims and offensive lineman Zane Herring (update: Sims backed off his commitment on Wednesday). Assistant coaches are also out on the road making visits.
FSU is also expected to host a number of commitments as well as some prospective targets in Tallahassee this weekend. Some of the de-commitments may visit FSU on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, although the odds of those prospects signing with the Seminoles in December will be long.
That’s critical as an NCAA-mandated quiet period begins on Sunday, with a dead period to follow on Monday and Tuesday. A quiet period means coaches can host recruits in Tallahassee but can not visit their high school campus. A dead period means no face-to-face contact but coaches can call, email or text recruits.
Norvell is respected as a recruiter and developer of talent during his time at Arizona State (2012-15) as offensive coordinator and head coach at Memphis (2016-19). But he doesn’t have many recruiting ties to Florida: his 2019 Memphis roster featured just two players from the Sunshine State.
Norvell’s enthusiasm is evident, helping him connect quickly with people. He made a quick impression on Madison County coach Mike Coe when Norvell made a visit to meet Herring.
“Coach Norvell has a plan, a detailed plan and knows exactly how to implement it,” Coe said. “His why, is what struck me, because I grew up with my Mom raising me. And my football coaches impacted my life greatly, just like his did. You can tell he feels a great responsibility to do it right, for the game itself, for the young men he coaches, and for the men that coached him and poured into his life. Kids want to have belief and hope, and for somebody believe in them.
“He mentioned relationships at least 10 times and that’s big to me. That’s what we run our program on here and that’s why our kids play so hard. His passion for football and the young men he’s entrusted with was quite evident. I can’t wait to get to know him more and pick his brain on culture and how to help young men become even better adults.”
Endorsements like Coe’s will spread quickly through the coaching community. And Norvell can also lean on the prior relationships built by current FSU assistants, including a longtime coach like Odell Haggins.
But the other reality is that a number of assistants may not be retained by Norvell, notably those who coached under Taggart at Western Kentucky, South Florida and Oregon (Donte’ Pimpleton and Raymond Woodie are two examples). The hiring of Kenny Dillingham as offensive coordinator all but seals the decision that Kendal Briles won’t be on FSU’s staff in 2020, which could have an impact on Texas high school quarterback Kade Renfro (he visited FSU last weekend).
As much as Norvell must use this week to build a coaching staff, it’s also critical that he meets most of or all of the FSU commitments either at their high school or during a visit this weekend.
“Building relationships takes time, building trust takes time,” Norvell said. “You have to invest in it. The only way you get to build trust is by making daily deposits. That’s something I’m committed to doing with the high school coaches and recruits here, to be open and successful. That’s going to be one of the top things on my priority list.”
Norvell is right that building relationship takes time. It’s something he doesn’t have. But he plans to maximize what time he has this week – taking a private jet to meet prospects and then hosting a group this weekend.
And during what was a widely-watched press conference, he made a passionate statement to the coaches around the state.
“I’d like to thank all the high school coaches in the state of Florida,” Norvell said. “Thank you for what you mean to this state. This is the most talent-rich state in the United States of America when it comes to football players and prospects. We have seen that over the years with all the former greats.”
The Osceola staff discussed FSU’s recruiting in detail on our podcast. For more thoughts on what Norvell may face on the recruiting trail, click here to listen