Florida State commits still buying into Mike Norvell's vision despite team's slow start
Suffice it to say, Florida State's football season hasn't gotten off to the start anyone expected.
The Seminoles, while not expected to contend for the ACC title this season, were definitely not expected to be 0-4 for the first time in nearly 50 years.
While this start has understandably soured much of the FSU fanbase on head coach Mike Norvell, at least for the time being, one very important group of people have not been shaken by the Seminoles' poor start.
Despite FSU's 0-4 record, it hasn't lost anyone from its 2022 recruiting class -- which ranks as the 10th-best in the nation per the 247Sports composite rankings -- since the season started.
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"I think it's just the bond that we have with the coaches and with each other," FSU three-star offensive line commit Kanaya Charlton told the Democrat when asked why the group has stayed united so far.
"Because as each of us started committing, we all just started putting more and more people in the little group chat that we had. Then we started motivating each other, staying focused on the end goal and letting them know that being a 'Nole is committing and you've got to stay committed, no matter what.
"No matter how bad the team is doing right now -- because I know they're 0-4 and had one of the worst losses in the history of the program -- but no matter how bad, we're still gonna stay committed and be with the team no matter what."
Norvell and his staff did a spectacular job building up the Seminoles' 2022 recruiting class during the offseason. It peaked in the top five of the recruiting rankings and still ranks in the top ten nationally despite FSU's on-field struggles so far this season.
With over two months left before the start of the Early Signing Period in December, there's still plenty of time left for these players to reconsider their decisions. Norvell knows some of them might.
But for those who are entirely locked in, a list that includes some of the most talented FSU commits, that tells Norvell all he needs to know about the type of impact these recruits could make.
"I'm looking for guys that want to be a part of that process too. Guys that want to be successful, guys that want to be challenged, guys that are willing to step up and step out," Norvell said Monday.
"They're going to have to defend, 'Well, why are you going there?' Because it's the best dang fit for them. It's an opportunity where they're going to go get pushed, they're gonna get developed, they're gonna have an opportunity to play at one of the greatest places in the country with a wonderful fanbase that cares...
"I'm excited about the guys we're recruiting because I'm excited about the guys that say yes. And then when adversity strikes and you lost a few games, is that still what you want to do? The ones that stand up and step out, those are the guys that you can guarantee are going to be a part of the change in a positive way."
This fiery response from Norvell was a part of a nearly five-minute answer when he was asked at his weekly press conference what he's saying to recruits right now given the state of the program.
In many ways, this monologue summed up what has made Norvell and his staff so successful on the recruiting trail despite results not yet showing up on the field.
"That's who he is. One thing about him, he's not gonna sugarcoat anything. That's what recruits, the guys that we have, that's what they like," FSU running backs coach/recruiting coordinator David Johnson said.
"They know one thing about him. He's gonna be authentic. We're looking for guys who want to come in and make a difference. We're looking for day-one players to come in and help us out. We know what situation we're in right now, we're not hiding anything. It is what it is. The biggest thing about us (is) we live in vision, not in circumstance. It is what it is and we're going to move forward."
It's also working in the Seminoles' favor so far that their most outwardly locked in commits are some of their most talented.
Five-star defensive back commit Travis Hunter -- either the No. 1 or No. 2 overall recruit in the 2022 class, depending on the recruiting service -- has never wavered whatsoever since committing to the Seminoles in March 2020.
On an Instagram livestream after the Seminoles' loss at Wake Forest, Hunter said, "Yeah I’m locked in. I’m not going nowhere, bro. Don’t let them boys fool y’all. I’m committed. I’m staying committed."
More recently on Instagram, Hunter said "Don't care if we go 0-10, I'm a Nole."
FSU's 2022 quarterback commit, four-star AJ Duffy, also ranks in the top 100 of the 2022 class rankings at No. 82.
Just last week, Duffy posted a picture on his Instagram of him in an FSU uniform during one of his visits to Tallahassee. The caption accompanying the picture read, "Home."
Charlton admits that seeing how incredibly committed these two and many others have shown themselves to be on social media has helped convince him he's making the right decision to keep honoring his commitment.
"It helps a lot seeing all of them stay focused because they are big-time recruits in the nation," Charlton said.
"Seeing the big-time recruits stay focused on the end goal, staying committed to Florida State, that just shows us that if they can stay focused (on FSU) with all the other recognition and all the other offers they have that we all can stay focused. We all want to play and we all want to bring Florida State back to the winning culture that it had before."
Florida State vs. Syracuse
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium
TV/Radio: ACC Network/94.9 FM
Reach Curt Weiler at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.
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