TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Mike Norvell’s feet had barely hit the ground when he started to work on what will likely be the biggest part of his job for the next eight days.
Before meeting FSU supporters and media in his press conference, before walking through a tunnel of Marching Chiefs across Bobby Bowden Field and before greeting Seminole fans at a basketball game later in the day, FSU’s new head football coach first met with a pair of recruits who had made their way to Tallahassee for the weekend.
He met with more on Monday. And he’ll meet even more on Tuesday, Wednesday and likely every other day that he can until the NCAA’s early signing period begins on December 18.
Norvell’s travel log is about to get a workout. He and his staff have nine days to build what will likely be the foundation for FSU’s 2020 signing class.
He’s well aware of it, too.
“I’m starting right now,” Norvell told reporters on Sunday. “The minute I get off this stage, that’s all of our focus.”
Building and maintaining relationships with coaches and prospects in such a short period of time will likely be Norvell’s first big challenge as FSU’s head coach.
In years past, coaches hired in December had until February to share their vision with prospects and their families.
But since the NCAA implemented the early signing period in 2017, that already short time was decimated.
Previous coach Willie Taggart had 15 days to put together the bulk of his class. Norvell is about to up the degree of difficulty.
But he does have a plan of attack.
“I think when you have such a short period of time, you have to really rely on showing kids how they’re going to be utilized. Showing them what the opportunity holds,” Norvell said. “… That’s all I ever tell recruits and young men that we are looking to bring into our program.
“This is a program built for playmakers. If they have any questions about that, I have plenty of film, opportunities to show them how they’ll be showcased.”
Norvell’s work at Memphis suggests that his message tends be well-received.
The Tigers’ current crop of verbal commitments projects as the best in school history – which would top the group that Norvell signed in 2017. And that despite being located in the heart of Southeastern Conference territory.
Media reports also suggest that Norvell is fast assembling a staff that has recruited at a high level for some of the country’s top football programs.
Given what he was able to do at Memphis, and given the resources available at Florida State, Norvell is confident that FSU will maintain its place as a destination school for the nation’s top prep players.
“The great thing – one of the most attractive things – about this university is you can get it all here,” Norvell said. “A top-20 academic institution in the country. You have an incredible place to live. You have an unbelievable brand, fan support. Every aspect.
“This is where you want to be.”
Norvell on Sunday called Florida “the most talent-rich state in the United States of America when it comes to football players.”
That’s hardly up for debate, but neither is the fact that competition for those players has never been fiercer.
Not only are Florida State, Florida and Miami after the blue-chip prospects, but so is just about every other football heavyweight in the country.
The likes of UCF, USF and Florida Atlantic often have a say, too.
Norvell began muscling his way to a seat at the table on Sunday, when he spoke directly to the state’s high school football coaches.
“Thank you,” he said, “for what you mean to this state.”
“As I walk through the facility,” Norvell continued, “you see the pictures, the Heisman Trophies, the national championships. That all started with our high school coaches here in the state of Florida. Because of cultivating relationships. Building young men that are passionate for success each and every day.
“I’m so excited about the opportunity of getting to know you.”
Like the broader job before him – of leading FSU football back to national prominence – Norvell understands that recruiting success isn’t guaranteed to come overnight.
It’s a process that takes time, and that must be done in as little time as possible.
But, as far as Norvell is concerned, he’s going to do what he’s always done. Get out on the road, share his vision in an honest, direct way, and trust that it will resonate with players who fit what he is building.
“The only way you get to build trust is by making daily deposits,” he said. “That’s something I’m committed to doing with the high school coaches and recruits here. … That’s going to be one of the top things on my priority list. …
“Anybody can stand in front of you, give you a speech, tell you a story of what (they) want to do. I want them to see it – how we practice, prepare. The way we develop those student-athletes.”