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Florida State football Spring Notebook: ‘Noles begin practice

Mike Norvell and Kenny Dillingham to speak to media today.

Don Juan Moore/Character Lines

Update, 7:05 PM

Mike Norvell was pleased with the Seminoles’ approach on the first day of practice. The biggest difference he saw was his teams conditioning and ability to finish out the practice. He said, “Good first day. I thought the guys came out and had a lot of energy, started in meetings, guys were very attentive. We want to be very aggressive in how we install, the intensity of the individual reps.”

Much of the uptick in conditioning and approach has come from the weight room. Last week, the Seminoles finished off their winter program with a squat party in the weight room. On that day, Norvell said, ““That was a great way to wrap up the winter program. It was exciting to see. You see a team that comes together through the challenge, through the work…Even at times when guys weren’t able to finish their rep, the encouragement.”

Florida State has a deep quarterback room with the addition of McKenzie Milton and the return of three guys who started at some point last year. Norvell looks forward to the way those guys push each other. “It is a challenge; our guys know that it is a true competition. I thought they did a good job of it today. I thought McKenzie had a nice control of what we were asking him to do. I thought Jordan looked really good, Chubba and Tate made some really nice throws.”

When asked about offensive lineman Darius Washington, Norvell said he was the most improved player on the team through the winter program. On Washington and his first full off-season program, Norvell said, “There’s been an unbelievable transformation for him with having the full off-season. Darius, he’s absolutely most improved in what he’s done. Big expectations for him and he answered the call in the winter program.”

Florida State’s defense struggled mightily last season. But it was also a brand new system for the third straight year. With some continuity in the system this year, Norvell thinks the defense will be able to just go out and play this year. “Trying to allow those guys to go out there and play as fast as they can. It is a learning experience for us to see exactly what we have. Guys we are looking at in different positions and different roles.”

Update, 7:20 PM

Offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham was second to the podium today. Dillingham is excited to see how guys play now that they have confidence and knowledge of Norvell’s system. Like Norvell, he also mentioned that the conditioning is at a whole new level. He said the familiarity has been the biggest thing to push improvement. “This is the first time these guys have had the same staff on offense ever, except for Baveon maybe. Our conditional level isn’t even comparable, last year we could barely even finish practice.”

Dillingham was impressed with his quarterbacks on day one. He was happy with the way they got the ball out and were using their knowledge of the offense in their favor. Dillingham said, “I was impressed, the comfort level is drastically different. Significantly higher than it was. Knowledge of the system is showing up with their feet and their eyes. Having a plan every time you take a snap.”

Another group that Dillingham was pleased with was the running back room. Specifically, he praised Jashaun Corbin, the third staff member to do it this spring. On the running backs, he said, “Love it, those guys, that group as a whole are all-in. Corbin has taken a huge step from a leadership standpoint. He’s a reserved guy by nature, but he is challenging himself to step up outside of his comfort zone to lead.”

Norvell had mentioned that freshmen wideouts Malik McClain and Josh Burrell don’t look like freshmen. Dillingham called them physical specimens and said the key for them will be consistency. “They are physical specimen from a freshman standpoint. They are both guys that come in with the tools to help us early. Have the want-to. After one practice, it is about consistency for a young guy. Can they make the big play in back to back days.”

Update, 7:35 PM

Running back Jashaun Corbin, linebacker Amari Gainer, and quarterback Jordan Travis met with the media today. Corbin, the star of the winter program, spoke about his progression as a leader and as a player. He said that both physically and mentally, this is the best he’s ever felt in college. Corbin said that he just strides to lead by example and show the young guys how it’s done. On being a leader, he said, “I feel like its natural progression through time and experience playing college football. It kind of just naturally came out of me.”

Gainer spoke on his weight gain and his versatility to play both outside and inside linebacker. Gainer mentioned that he is now at 235 pounds with all natural weight through his nutrition and workouts. The linebacker also spoke on the difference that continuity has provided the defense this spring. On the difference from last year till now, he said, “It’s definitely different, already being acclimated with the coaches. It feels better, a lot of improvements from last year.”

Travis spoke on the competition within the quarterback room and what McKenzie Milton brings to the room. He also spoke on the new standard they have and what it means to have the same staff here for the second year. He mentioned that everyone, especially the quarterbacks, feel way more comfortable in everything they do. Travis said he feels a true “family” atmosphere for the first time in his college career. He said, “This team. We love each other. We trust each other. It’s a way different feeling. It’s a great feeling.”

Florida State football took the field this afternoon for their first practice of the spring. It will be a big spring for the ‘Noles, who got in just three practices last March. Last week, Mike Norvell spoke to the media on how the Seminoles have looked in the weight room and how they have grown through FSU’s ‘Tour of Duty.’ Norvell said, “I think the leadership we’ve seen throughout our program has been really good. The approach to the work has been the biggest improvement I’ve seen.”

Strength and conditioning coach Josh Storms echoed Norvell’s sentiment about the daily approach from the Seminoles, saying it’s the biggest difference since last spring. “The biggest difference is how these guys approach the work every day coming in. They’re going to expect to be challenged, but they have the confidence that the coaches aren’t going to put something in front of them that they can’t succeed.”

Norvell will talk to the media again today around 6:15 PM. Offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham will follow the head coach, before a few select players will end the day.

As always, we’ll be providing updates in the comment section and on Twitter.