Is FSU football’s high school recruiting struggling under Mike Norvell?
With the February signing day now behind us, Mike Norvell and the Florida State Seminoles are largely finished with #Tribe23. There may be a couple more additions through the transfer portal, but FSU has shifted its focus to 2024. With that in mind, I felt this was the ideal time to write three articles and give my opinion on a question that’s been raised numerous times the past few years: does Mike Norvell’s FSU coaching staff struggle to recruit high school prospects?
It cannot be argued that transfer portal recruiting under Mike Norvell has been anything other than successful. Earlier in Norvell’s tenure, the Seminoles brought in highly-productive starters Johnny Wilson, Trey Benson, Jashaun Corbin, Dillan Gibbons, Jermaine Johnson, Fabian Lovett, Keir Thomas, Jammie Robinson, Jared Verse, and Tatum Bethune. They brought in key depth pieces or part-time/projected starters in Jarrian Jones, Jordan Wilson, Greedy Vance, Devontay Love-Taylor, Bless Harris, D’Mitri Emmanuel, Mycah Pittman, Winston Wright, Deuce Spann, and Jazston Turnetine.
Now we can add the 2023 transfer class into the mix, which boasts an average player rating of 91.44 (blue-chip 4 star range) and could yield up to eight new starters. The tight end room was transformed from an Achilles heel to a giant flexing bicep, while crucial help is arriving along the offensive and defensive lines, and FSU finally has itself a shutdown cornerback.
National rankings for Mike Norvell’s transfer classes: 4th in 2020, 3rd in 2021, 11th in 2022, and 2nd in 2023. That’s an average national ranking of 5th among transfer portal signees. That’s elite, folks.
Simply stated, Mike Norvell has a very strong case to be named the Transfer Portal King.
Conversely, high school recruiting class rankings under Norvell haven’t been at the same level. Let’s analyze 247Sports national rankings, blue-chip ratios (percentage of composite 4 or 5-star signees), and attrition rates for each of his classes.
Norvell’s 2020 transition class ranked 22nd nationally among high school signees, an impressive feat given the short period of time to assemble the class. The blue-chip ratio for 2020 was a meager 27% for those who made it to campus. Transition classes are notorious for high attrition, and that class was no exception. Of the 26 prep signees, 13 are no longer on FSU’s roster, including 5 of 8 blue-chip signees.
Out of 26 prep signees in the 2020 cycle, FSU has retained 3 blue-chips. That’s 11.5%. But again, it was a transition class, so an argument can be made to give Mike a pass this cycle.
Norvell’s first full cycle in charge (2021) yielded 17 prep signees and ranked 23rd nationally. The blue-chip ratio rose to 47%, with 8 signees ranked as 4-stars. The attrition rate, however, is close to 2020. 8 of 17 signees aren’t on the roster, including 6 of 8 blue-chips. Granted, Destyn Hill’s status is still nebulously floating around, but who knows what’ll happen there.
Out of 17 prep signees in the 2021 cycle, FSU has retained 2 blue-chips. That’s 11.7%. Hmmm. Not good.
2022 saw FSU sign 17 high school players, once again, in its 20th-ranked class. The blue-chip ratio for 2022 dropped to 35%, with 6 signees ranked as 4-stars. Only one of last year’s signees has left the program (and some would argue it’s addition by subtraction), so the attrition rate of the 2022 class is a mere 6% in the short time they’ve been on campus.
Out of 17 prep signees last cycle, FSU’s retained 5 blue-chip recruits. That’s 29%. Incremental improvement.
The newly-signed prep class of 2023 ranked 19th nationally, the highest ranking under Norvell to date. It’s also the first class he’s been able to sign with true proof of concept regarding on-field improvement. The class also includes Norvell’s first composite 5-star signee. 9 of the 18 prep signees are considered blue-chips, finally hitting the desired 50% (or higher) blue-chip ratio.
No attrition has hit the 2023 class yet (which cannot be said for FSU’s two in-state rivals, who have each had recruits ask out of their National Letters of Intent).
In summary, Mike Norvell and his staff have signed a total of 78 high school recruits over 4 classes (an average of 19.5 per cycle). The average national ranking of the prep signee portion of each class is 21, sitting just outside the Top 20.
Norvell has reeled in 31 prep signees ranked as blue-chip recruits (7.75 per cycle). Of those 31 blue-chips, 19 remain on FSU’s roster at the time of this writing (a 61% retention rate). Overall, 56 of the 78 signees are still playing for FSU (a 72% retention rate).
If you exclude the newly-signed 2023 class and only look at the 2020-2022 classes, 10 of 22 blue-chips (45%) and 38 of 60 total prep signees (63%) remain.
So there you have it. We’ve examined the rankings, blue-chip ratios, and attrition rates of Mike Norvell’s prep recruiting classes.
The second article of this series will dive deeper into the actual names behind the numbers to further analyze the productivity yielded by each high school recruiting class. The third and final installment will answer the question of whether or not Mike Norvell’s coaching staff is struggling recruiting high school prospects.