During Tuesday’s media availability, the press got the chance to speak with head coach Mike Norvell, wide receivers coach Ron Dugans, redshirt sophomore receiver Jordan Young, and junior receiver Keyshawn Helton.
All four men have something in common- they are pass-catchers at heart. Norvell walked on at Central Arkansas and set the school record for receptions with 213. Dugans starred at receiver for the dynasty-era Seminoles, totaling 1,520 receiving yards as Florida State had an astounding 55-6 record during his five seasons.
While it is far from uncommon for a head coach or a position coach to be a former player, whether or not that will translate to more success on the field for a coaches’ former playing position is a mystery.
As fans know, the recent history of past Seminole head coaches Jimbo Fisher and Willie Taggart and their former position group of quarterbacks could not have been more of a mixed bag.
With Fisher at the helm, Florida State boasted a Heisman trophy winner, three of the top six program leaders in passing yards and one of the most prolific receivers in FSU history in Rashad Greene. However, under Taggart, Florida State had major issues even recruiting high school signal-callers, which combined with other factors, led to a drop off in production.
The question is can the Noles’ receivers duplicate the type of success that Fisher’s quarterbacks enjoyed- at least early in his career- during Norvell’s tenure at Florida State?
“The offense doesn’t really go without the receivers,” said Young. “I feel like, since [Norvell] played receiver, that is a focal point for us.”
At least for Norvell and Dugans in 2020, the cupboard certainly isn’t bare at wideout. When explosive senior Tamorrion Terry announced he was returning in December, it was arguably one of the best individual pieces of news in recent memory for Seminole faithful. Senior D.J. Matthews has significant experience starting and making plays at the college level. Talent abounds in redshirt sophomore Warren Thompson and freshman Bryan Robinson. Young has seemingly been poised for a breakout role (based on various practice reports) for over a calendar year.
Perhaps no one has received more glowing reports in camp thus far than Helton. The Pensacola, Fla. product has begun full-contact participation in practice after last season’s injury.
“Keyshawn is the hardest worker I have ever met. The injury that happened to him, I feel like it put an extra chip on his shoulder that he already had and it made him hungrier,” said Young. “It just made him an entirely different player. He is a lot better.”
For Florida State’s football program as a whole, the hope is that the wideouts can learn something from the way Norvell and Dugans played the game on the field, not just how they teach it from the sidelines.
Dugans explained, “To be honest, I just want these guys to compete the way I used to compete. And these guys are taking to that, helping each other out, competing their butts off. They’re wanting to be the best. They’re wanting to get better daily...That’s what its about.”