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Florida State head coach Mike Norvell Signing Day press conference full quotes

Hear Norvell’s thoughts on the 2021 recruiting class, transfers, and offseason workouts

On Wednesday afternoon, Florida State head coach Mike Norvell met with the media for a National Signing Day press conference to discuss the 2021 recruiting class. You can find the full video of his interview here.

Below is a full transcript of Norvell’s comments:

Opening statement: “Really excited, excited about all the additions to our program. The young men who have committed to being a part of this great institution. It is definitely a special day to celebrate. It has been an exciting morning for everybody here, with another great addition who just got announced a little while ago.”

“I do want to take this moment to thank everyone, all of our staff, the different departments that have been involved academically. This has been an unprecedented year when it comes to college football and recruiting.”

“To have a dead period for the better part of this season, going all the way back to March when kids could not come on campus, the things we had to do virtually, being able to connect with the parents and families. Being able to portray the vision of what these guys are going to be, and how they fit, and why they were the right fit for Florida State. It has been a tremendous workload, but we have a great staff and are definitely appreciative to all of those that took part in helping to put together this class.”

“When you look at this class, it is a wonderful mix. We have a tremendous group of high school players joining our program, we have junior college and four-year transfers that are coming in, all that are bringing tremendous value to not only who we are, but to where we are going. This is going to be a key class that is going to help to continue to push our program to where we want to go. Great football players but also just a tremendous group of young men in who they are, what they want to accomplish, the relationships that they have built, and the impact that they have made. We are excited about them and what they are going to be able to do here in Tallahassee.

“There is potential for a couple more additions within the class, we are excited about those possibilities. But we are definitely looking forward to what the future holds, and I really think we were able to address many of the needs that we had, not only immediately, but also for what the future holds for this program. Definitely grateful to all of the families and the student-athletes who allowed us to recruit them, allow us into that journey. We are excited about where we are going to go together.”

On wide receiver signee Destyn Hill and the overall WR signee class: “It is incredible, he is a complete receiver. I have watched Destyn since he was extremely young in high school, he really kind of burst onto the scene early in his high school career and has continued to get better, coming out of one of the top programs in the state of Louisiana. He has been a dynamic playmaker for them. Coach Brown does as good of a job as any coach I think in the state, but also just within the country. How he develops these guys for what they do on the field, but also for who they are off the field. We are seeing Destyn and the way that he has matured, there is not an area of his game where he has not put focus into that development.

More on Destyn Hill and the overall WR signee class: “He is a deep-play threat, a great route-runner, very smooth in all of his actions, has wonderful hands. Then when he gets the ball in his hands, he can definitely do great things with it getting yards after the catch. A tough, physical receiver, and really a very selfless teammate. You see the work when he does when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, the willingness to block, to do some of the dirty work. Brings a great dynamic in the special teams game as a returner. To be able to add him today, coupled with Malik McClain and Josh Burell, that is a great trio of young freshman receivers, who I think have an unbelievable ceiling for what they can accomplish. Can help our football team immediately.”

On running backs coach and recruiting coordinator David Johnson and his ties to Louisiana: “Coach Johnson is number one, heart-led, and it is all about relationship. I’ll never forget the first time I met him, the way that he treated coaches that came in from the college ranks. That is one of the first places that I went when I became a full-time head coach. I remember that interaction, and I remember him coaching his players. Leonard Fournette, those guys, they were eighth graders at the time. To see the development that they had under his leadership, it really spoke volumes to who he was as a man.”

“To see him and the way that his career has gone in the coaching ranks, and the relationships that he still has there within the city of New Orleans, the state, and the southeast region, he is a great coach, but just a wonderful person. To be able to rely on those relationships, especially in a year like this where we weren’t able to get out as much as we would want to, to be able to be in the homes and share the vision face to face. Having those relationships has been big, and to be able to pull as few of the best players in the city of New Orleans here to Florida State is exciting. We are excited about what that does even for our future in the classes moving forward.”

On the receiver class and filling needs: “We spent a lot of time identifying our needs. I am excited about the group of young men I have on this football team, the guys that are returning on this team. But it is also about surrounding them with the right pieces. Through this entire signing class, it is about finding the right fit. Not only from the physical skillsets of what it is going to take for these guys to come in and make an impact. Some of them are going to have an opportunity to compete in day 1 to be able impact this football team in a big way. But also, to make sure that the talent we are surrounding them with the right guys, the right approach. These guys, they are addressing those needs, and I think we have hit an absolute home run in that position. And like you mentioned, there is potential to adding one more that we would be excited about.”

On transfer portal signees: “Well we want to have great balance in our roster. When you look at our roster this past year, 75 percent of it was freshmen and sophomores. To be able to add the experience that we have been able to bring in, some of those guys are still going to be in the sophomore or junior class themselves, but when you are able to bring in guys who understand what it takes, and they have already had that production at the college level. Some of the restrictions that we have had in the dead period, to not be able to have those in-person evaluations, when you get guys who have already done it at this level, and you get a better sample of who they are and how they fit what we are trying to do, that helps kind of bridge the gap. We were able to add tremendous leadership, but also guys like I mentioned with the high school group who fit Florida State and what we are looking to do moving forward.”

On virtual recruiting, and whether any current methods will continue even after dead period is lifted: “I think it provides a great value to showcase your program in a variety of different way, but there is still nothing like face-to-face. When you look at this signing, class, even with Destyn signing here today, he was one of the few young men we were able to get on campus. The success rate that we had with guys who were able to be on campus, from December when I was first here or until March, it was remarkable the guys who got to be around our staff in-person. They got a chance to get a feel for what we are looking to do and how we are going to do it.”

“I am excited about what the future holds. We have put a huge emphasis in building the relationship already with the 2022 and 2023 class, even the 2024 class, but for us to know we are going to be able to get them on campus. Not only you have the virtual benefits of what we have learned, but on the flipside of it they get a chance to be face-to-face and truly feel the emotion and the overall culture of what is being built here. Not only where we are but where we are going to be. That brings a lot of excitement to these young men.”

On the future balance of high school recruits versus transfer portal additions in a class: “We are always going to address the needs that we have from all avenues. There is no doubt it, we are in the most talent-rich state in the country. Getting our start by recruiting the high schools in Florida and south Georgia, and from there being able to branch-out is critical. There is an incredible anticipation for our coaches to be able to get out and continue to build those relationships in-person. To be able to get coaches and kids here on campus.”

“That is where we want this program to be built from. This year, there were a lot of challenges when it came to that. You look at our signing class, and four or five of the signees had former coaches who were former Seminoles. When you are asking and really having to take that leap of faith of who the young man is, what they are all about, their desire passion and attitude which they bring to the game, which are all factors that we normally get to see in-person through those evaluations.”

“I wanted to link up with guys who know what it takes, and have been and have been in that locker room. That understand that Seminoles spirit that is a necessity for us to have to continue to get this program back to where it needs to be. That was a critical piece. I am excited about the balance. But there are going to be times where you find a young man from the junior college ranks or form a four-year transfer that are the right fit for what we are looking for. We are going to evaluate that with each situation that comes up. This year it was unique, it was a unique circumstance. With people getting this extra year, but also some of the needs that we had.”

On possible momentum behind the program in recruiting: “Every day that we get is an opportunity to continue to invest in those relationships. There has been a huge focus on the 2022 class, we have been recruiting them very hard. Through all methods. Even starting this week being able to call those prospects here through the dead period. We are trying to maximize that opportunity. When these kids get a better sense of who we are and where this program is going, there is a great excitement. There is a sense of momentum for where we are headed. To be able to utilize those opportunities in building those relationships.”

“I am excited about it. I am excited about what the future holds, definitely looking to get back to our new normal in mid-April. But I think it is an exciting time. These kids, they see what is coming. I have encouraged these kids to reach out to our players, reach out to the guys that we have. What is their experience and what do they see from our program? It has been fun hearing the response from them whether it is players or their parents who have talked to the guys that we have that are a part of the program, who have been through the transitions. The energy that they are bringing to encourage these student-athletes to be a part of it, it is really an exciting time for sure.”

On Destyn Hill and his speed: “I have watched Destyn for a long time, and I have never clocked him the forty but I know it is fast. Whatever time somebody states, I wouldn’t put it past them. He can absolutely run. Speed at receiver, that is always a great thing to have. But being able to utilize that speed and whatever you run in the forty to be able to take that to game speed, to be able to run routes, to create separation, to be able to be efficient in your movements. That is what makes great route-runners. Jerry Rice, one of the greatest receivers to ever play, he was a 4.6 forty on his best day, but he was able to play at an elite level speed on game day. That is what I see from Destyn. He takes true speed and he is able to implement that to his game play in and play out. That is what makes him such a dynamic threat. We are excited to be able to have him.”

On the balance between filling needs and pursuing the best available players within the transfer portal: “There is one position of need that we are absolutely going to address. Then it will probably get to the best available player. There is a couple different options out there that we are discussing and exploring, but at the end of the day, it still has to come down to the right fit. I have been excited to see how this roster has come about and really throughout the recruiting cycle and now getting to today, you have seen the needs that have been addressed and met. It is going to couple with some things that we want to do schematically, but also some positional needs that create further competition. I am excited about the development that I have seen from a lot of our young guys who have gone through our offseason program as we are in our fourth week. To know that we are going to be able to have spring practice…We are going to be patient though it, but also knowing that we do have specific thoughts on what we would like to accomplish with these last couple spots.”

On the seven transfer portal signees: “I am so very pleased with that group. The emphasis to be able to get guys who can be here now, to have the experience of being in our offseason, going through our Tour of Duty, getting a true understanding of the culture and expectations we have day-to-day within this program. To see them build relationships. That has been a joy to watch those guys that are here on campus, how they are pouring into each other, how they are building the relationships. Not only with the younger players but with the guys who are experienced and have been through journey.”

“The one thing I can tell is they are all workers. That is something that we believed in when we brought them here, but to see that play out, and their investment in the team and the program, that has been one of the greatest joys here this first month. You see guys who are willing to do what they say they wanted to do, and relationships are forging at a great rate, these guys are competing every single day in what they are doing. But they are competing together. That is always a joy as a coach to see that mindset and approach in all that we are doing. They are doing a wonderful job, and I am very pleased with where we are right now.”

On crop of FSU players who will return for another senior year: “It has been great watching them as well. Those guys, they made the choice to return, I think we have 6 guys. They have embraced the opportunity. Knowing the offseason and how we work, and the things that we ask them to do, to see them really jump all in. Last year, there was a lot of nervousness with a new coach coming in and not knowing what to expect. This year these guys fully know what to expect. You see them really try to be leaders in that. A guy like Leonard Warner, who even explored other opportunities, just made that decision that this is what he wanted. You see him out running, he is 255 pounds and he is running as good as he ever run. That is somebody that has went through a position change here, you look at Baveon Johnson, Emmett Rice, Devontay Love-Taylor, it is exciting. The leadership that the have and the work that they have poured into the younger guys, they are carrying themselves in a little different light. Meiko Dotson, Jordan Wilson. That is what college football is all about. It is exciting to see where they are. Those guys are going to be tremendous leaders for us, they are leading the charge in what we want to do, and helping these young guys understand what it takes.”

On the urgency of the offseason with a matchup with Notre Dame in week 1: “Absolutely. I love having that game coming out the gate. It is going to be the only game on in college football, Sunday night. I have to be totally transparent, I find myself pulling up Youtube clips of a fully-packed Doak Campbell Stadium and it gives me goosebumps. I have not had that experience. These players coming in, they know the responsibility that we have. The work in this offseason, trying to get better every day. We know the challenges ahead, but it is an exciting time. These guys are really pouring into the daily experiences and growth, and that is what we have to continue to do throughout Spring practice and everything leading up to kickoff.”

On upcoming Spring Practice: “I can tell you that I am as excited for this Spring as I have ever been. It is one of my favorite times as a coach, because that is where the identity of your team gets to be established. The toughness, the details, the fundamentals, the adjustments. Right now we have a year under out belt, we have a great sense of where our guys were, but also building up to where they hope to be. We are going to adapt and adjust throughout those 15 practices, and we are going to maximize every one of them. I fully expect we are going to handle that and utilize those days the best that we can. If adjustments have to be made, we are ready to do that. I think we are well-versed in adjusting to change. We are all excited about what spring ball is going to be for us. But we still have half of the winter program to continue to grow and build to put ourselves in the best position when we do step on the field March 9th.”