December 20, 2019 - by

Norvell, Dillingham Work Overtime To Land QBs Of The Future

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As of Wednesday morning, the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period for recruits, it had been exactly 1,050 days since a prep quarterback had signed with Florida State.

By a few hours later, Mike Norvell had signed two. And he convinced them to do so after just 10 days on the job.

Meet Tate Rodemaker and Chubba Purdy, two prime candidates to be Florida State’s quarterback of the future and two of the biggest reasons that Norvell’s first signing day as a Seminole was considered such a rousing success both locally and beyond.

They both look the part (Rodemaker is 6-4, 190 pounds; Purdy 6-2, 210), they both have strong prep pedigrees and they both figure to be key parts of Norvell’s foundation in Tallahassee.

“To be able to get two young men like Tate and Chubba, man, I think we hit an absolute home run,” Norvell said. “Those guys have been incredible in that short period of time just getting to know them.”

It’s that last part that makes this year’s quarterback class so impressive.

Norvell noted that, as the most prized prospects in any given year, the country’s top quarterbacks are typically all spoken and accounted for by the time December rolls around.

Alabama, for example, got a verbal commitment from its top quarterback target in September, and Clemson has had its quarterback in the fold since May.

A look at the archives, back to when Florida State was ascending to the top of college football, shows that Jameis Winston had been verbally committed to FSU for nearly six months before signing his letter of intent.

Rodemaker and Purdy were no different. Each had pledged to another program over the summer and, as of two weeks ago, had little or no reason to think they’d end up anywhere else.

But Norvell changed things.

“I thought he was awesome,” Purdy said in an interview with Sports360 in Arizona, noting that Norvell and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham were the first two to greet him when arrived in Tallahassee for his official visit last weekend.

“Their offense, they really give the quarterbacks a lot of freedom.”

Rodemaker, from nearby Valdosta, Ga., had a similar experience.

“I think the coaching change is great,” he told reporters after signing with the Seminoles on Wednesday morning. “I always liked Florida State. I always wished they would offer me. They finally did and that was kind of a game-changer.”

Consider it all a roster-changer for Florida State, which, after the departure of fifth-year senior Alex Hornibrook, the Seminoles are slated to have only two scholarship quarterbacks for next season.

Yes, between graduate-transfer rules and the recently implemented transfer portal, modern college football provides more ways to fill the depth chart than ever before.

But, as Seminoles fans can likely attest, it’s hard to beat the old-fashioned way: recruit, sign, develop, contribute. It’s not always a quick or easy process, but, more often than not, it’s the best way to do it.

And it’s one that FSU had neglected for too long.

“I believe that there was a specific need at that position,” Norvell said.

With Rodemaker and Purdy in the mix, the Seminoles won’t just have options at quarterback. They’ll also have a healthier competition.

Consider last spring, when veteran James Blackman, through no fault of his own, was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster.

Adding Hornibrook and Jordan Travis later in the year alleviated that to some degree, but it’s hard to replicate a few years’ worth of competition in a handful of months.

Blackman, soon to be a redshirt junior, still has two years of collegiate availability remaining. And Travis, a redshirt sophomore, will have three.

Which means that, if all goes to plan, the Seminoles could have quite the quarterbacks room before long.

“We really like the guys that we have on our roster,” Dillingham said, “but competition helps breed success. And that’s what we’re trying to create.”

“I try to recruit telling these young men exactly what the expectation is going to be,” Norvell added. “They’re going to have to compete.”

While they had to work quickly, neither Norvell nor Dillingham were flying totally blind as they recruited their quarterbacks.

They were in on Rodemaker while at Memphis – he actually had a scholarship offer from Norvell’s Tigers – and they knew Purdy from their days as coaches in Arizona.

Purdy, whose older brother Brock is the starting quarterback at Iowa State, is from Gilbert, Ariz., just 12 miles from the Arizona State campus where Norvell and Dillingham worked earlier this decade.

Landing Purdy turned out to be a team effort.

Andrew Boselli, Florida State’s redshirt junior center, said Thursday that his and Purdy’s families go back years. Their mothers have been friends since high school, and the families have held gatherings and holidays together ever since.

Which made Boselli a natural choice to host Purdy and show him around campus and town last weekend.

“Since he was born, I’ve known him,” Boselli said. “And with all our family reunions and everything, we would hang out.”

They’ll be hanging out a lot for at least another year.

“Him deciding to come here was just very, very exciting,” Boselli said. “Someone I’ve literally played ‘Turkey Bowls’ with when I was 10 years old. To go from ‘Turkey Bowls’ to Florida State is literally like a dream come true.”

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