CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The ACC Kickoff turns its attention to the Atlantic Division coaches and players on Thursday. Up first will be Florida State coach Mike Norvell as well as quarterbacks McKenzie Milton and Jordan Travis and defensive end Jermaine Johnson.
Norvell and the players will do a variety of interviews with FSU beat writers as well as the ACC Network and various radio shows.
Look for updates to begin by mid-morning. We’ll add some news and notes to this story throughout the day from Norvell and players as well as a few highlights of what the various Atlantic Division coaches and players said.
You can also join us on Thursday at 6 p.m. as the Osceola Happy Hour will give you updates from ACC Kickoff and we’ll of course discuss coach Bobby Bowden.
On vaccinations for players: “For us, it’s about helping provide education for our players. And as we go through this process, that’s something that I was grateful that Myron Rolle got a chance to get on (video) and talk to our team and just help provide them information. Because our guys have questions, and they want to know, just in all aspects of the effects, the benefits. And it was a great session that our team got to be a part of and we’re on our way with it. And our guys are making those decisions and we’re supporting our players and helping just provide all the information that we can just to put ourselves in the best position individually and collectively as a team.”
On protocols for those who are vaccinated and those who aren’t: Those are things that we’re constantly evaluating. We just experienced a year that we had to have so many different adaptations to how we operated. And so it shows that we can. And that’s something that we’re going to continue to evaluate as we get more information and get closer to camp, we’re going to have a plan.”
Is FSU at or close to the 85 percent threshold of vaccinations: “We’re getting closer each day. It’s something that we’re working through. But we’re going to continue to see how that progresses. We had a team meeting yesterday, there were some guys that elected that it was something that they wanted to do here moving forward. And so we’re going to continue to evaluate that as we get closer.”
Bringing two quarterbacks to ACC Kickoff: “I’m grateful for both of those guys because they’re both tremendous players, tremendous leaders. They make an incredible impact on our football team each and every day. And we get to go through that process. We had a wonderful spring, got to evaluate those guys for not only where they were, but also who they are and what they do to help make our football team better. The thing I’m excited about is the work that they put in for the summer. When you have a quarterback battle or guys you are looking to establish himself as the starter or the guy, that development throughout the summer is critical. And so we’ll be able to evaluate that here in fall camp and the guy that gets on the field that makes the 10 guys around him better, is efficient in operation, the explosiveness, all those things that we desire within this offense, that’s something that we’re looking for. Both of those guys are great playmakers. Both of those guys are incredible young men. And I’m excited about what they’re going to do to help our football team win games this year.”
On Coach Bowden: “Thoughts and prayers are with Coach Bowden this day and I thought, his statement of inner peace. That’s what we all aspire for in life. Coach Bowden has made an incredible impact. One of the greatest joys that I’ve ever had was actually last spring, and coach Bowden came up to the facility and got a chance to sit down with him. Just to have that experience to know who he is. Everybody points to the coach that he is and was. All-time great. But the person. … To be at peace at home, to be able to rest and know the things that he’s been able to accomplish, the impacts that he’s been able to make. That’s just an incredible example of a man, a coach that changed so many things here at the university.”
Norvell later began his opening statement at the podium to a larger media group by saying, “Coach Bowden, we love you.”
Coaching in the challenges of year 1 at FSU as well as it being a pandemic year: “I think ‘unique’ is an understatement to the year we just experienced. I’m grateful for this year. People can easily point to the challenges of what we experienced and the things we had to go through. I’m grateful to be able to have been a part of it with this team, with the guys I get to coach. As we come in, there’s been a lot of change at Florida State over the last few years. To be able to be with my players, with our coaches, it provided an opportunity through each challenge to be an example of how you respond. That was something that we talked about throughout the course of this last year, something we still talk about today, is how you respond to all those situations. There are moments in this last year we saw great highs. We had a big win, a top-5 win. Then there were moments of great lows. There were things we had to adapt, adjust. We were able to do it together. I believe that really helped set the foundation and build the trust throughout our team of who we are, what we’re aspiring to do, where we’re aspiring to go.”
The defensive end was asked why FSU and looked to his left to Norvell. “That guy right there, Coach Norvell, he called me. Everything he said just made sense. He believed in who I was as a man. He believed in who I was as a player. He believed in who I could be. I feel like we share those values. I couldn’t wait to get here and give everything I had to him and this program. Every day I wake up happy and I feel blessed that I’m able to give all I have to this program. It just feels like it’s right, feels like it was made for me. I’m just blessed to be in the position I am.”
Dealing with change through the years: “What you believe is what you believe. Your thoughts are very powerful. What you choose to think, that’s what will become a reality for you. So just tuning out the outside noise, good or bad. Having a strong foundation and a sense of who you are as a person, and in my case as a man. I feel like that has carried me through all of my triumphs and everything else.”
Johnson’s role as a leader: “Coach Norvell told me what I was walking into in terms of a role that I had to step and be that guy and influence and lead other guys. I don’t take that lightly. He’s trusting me with an incredible role. My teammates trust me with an incredible role every day. I can’t have a bad day. I can’t come in and be flat. I have to come in, like I said, give my all to this team on and off the field. Tons of things nobody sees. Just have to do the right thing and push the right things forward for your team. So I’m just glad that I am in this position, and I’m blessed, truly blessed. That’s all I can say.”
On Milton’s journey: “Yeah, it’s been a long time since November 2018. Just a number of surgeries, infection in the leg, just a lot of ups and downs, a lot of ups and downs. But I’m grateful that back at UCF I had a great medical staff. I feel like the biggest moment for me where I saw, like, light at the end of the tunnel was being able to go out there and practice again last year. That was probably the most fun I had in college football. Yeah, just getting back out there with the guys. Something I won’t take for granted again. Just having this opportunity to come to Florida State, play for Coach Norvell, everything that he’s about, everything this program’s about. Man, it’s something you couldn’t write up. So I’m definitely grateful for this opportunity.”
On forming Dreamfield with D’Eriq King: “Yeah, D’Eriq and I, we’re older heads in this college football game. I think just being part of Dreamfield has just given us the opportunity to think about life after football and at the same time help educate these college athletes on filing taxes, setting their market rate for what they feel their value is, getting in contact with local businesses, whether it’s an autograph signing, to get connected to fans, get some free food, things like that. Just little things that we weren’t able to capitalize off of before, just being able to see that has been pretty cool the past couple weeks. I’m excited to see what these college athletes, what they run and do it, whether it’s making podcasts, YouTube podcasts, channels, whatever their own merchandise. It’s something that’s pretty cool. Like Coach said, you’re becoming your own business and your own brand. That’s something to take into consideration when you’re 18 years old, now I’m 23, going to be 24 here in a few months. But, yeah, it’s an exciting time in college football, for sure.”
On the offensive line: “I give a shout-out to them because they’ve been working very hard this off-season. Every single day they go out 100 percent. We do player practices. They’re out there every single day going full speed. I’m blessed to have them. Yeah, of course, offensive line, it starts there in the trenches. We can’t do anything without the offensive line. So I’m thankful for them boys.”
On competition with Milton: “I have to give a shout-out to McKenzie also. That boy, he works hard every day. He’s been through a lot. I’ve been looking up to him for many years now. I’m just seeing where he came from. I’m blessed to have him here. I’m ready to get ready to work with him. If I’m next to him, if I’m behind him, I’m thankful for every opportunity I have. I’m thankful to be at Florida State.”