Analysis: How FSU can add 32 players, fill roster with Norvell signees
Mike Norvell has been Florida State's head football coach for exactly two years today -- he was officially introduced on Dec. 8, 2019.
A great deal has changed since that day, particularly when it comes to the Seminoles' roster. And depending on how the next month plays out, there's a good chance his third season with the Seminoles will feature a team made up of more than 80 percent players he and his staff handpicked and signed.
That would be quite the overhaul in just over 24 months.
Scholarship numbers can be difficult to pin down for a variety of reasons, but the way it stands right now, it appears FSU has 24 players on the roster who are holdovers from previous coaching staffs.
Eighteen came as part of Willie Taggart's two signing classes, in 2018 and '19. (It's worth noting that 24 of the 42 signees from those two classes are no longer with the program).
There actually are two players who still remain from Jimbo Fisher's final class in 2017 -- receiver Ontaria "Pokey" Wilson and defensive end Leonard Warner -- though it's not yet known if they both plan to return for sixth seasons.
And then there are four players who came in during Taggart's tenure but were not scholarship signees out of high school -- quarterback Jordan Travis (transfer from Louisville), tight end Wyatt Rector (transfer from Western Michigan), running back Treshaun Ward (originally enrolled as a walk-on), and kicker Parker Grothaus (also originally enrolled as a walk-on).
If all 24 of those players stay with the team, that would mean 61 of FSU's 85 scholarship players in 2022 would be guys Norvell has signed -- either from high school, junior college or the transfer portal. That's about 72 percent.
But the number likely will be far more than that.
Based on recent trends, and with the NCAA passing a one-time exemption this year that will allow schools to replace up to seven transfers -- on top of the normal 25 annual signees -- it seems likely that the Seminoles will try to sign the maximum possible total of 32 players (including high school, junior college and transfers).
And if they do that, there's a chance around 70 of the 85 players on FSU's roster next fall will be athletes brought in by this staff. That would be 82 percent, and the number could be higher than that.
So how do the Seminoles get to that number?
Well, it's going to take some more attrition than we have seen so far.
Because FSU had a pretty small senior class in 2021, the 'Noles will need several more players to leave the program to open up space for these new faces and still remain within the 85-scholarship limit.
With that in mind, here is a look at the players who have already announced they are leaving and where that leaves the current roster from a numbers perspective:
Players who graduated/exhausted eligibility/leaving for NFL (11)
QB McKenzie Milton, DE Jermaine Johnson, DE Keir Thomas, TE Jordan Wilson, WR Andrew Parchment, OL Baveon Johnson, OL Devontay Love-Taylor, OL Brady Scott, LB Emmett Rice, LB DeCalon Brooks, DB Meiko Dotson
Players who have entered the portal since 2021 season ended (6)
LB Jayion McCluster -- Did not play in 2021; played only a few snaps in 2020
LB Jaleel McRae -- Saw limited playing time on special teams in 2021
TE Carter Boatwright -- Played two snaps in 2021
OL Jalen Goss -- Played on some special teams
OL Ira Henry -- Played mostly on special teams
DT Tru Thompson -- Saw limited action in one game this season
Players who left during the 2021 season (4)
QB Chubba Purdy -- Backup quarterback, saw action in one game before leaving during season
WR Bryan Robinson -- Played special teams in one game before leaving during season
RB Deonte Sheffield -- Did not play during season, left mid-year
OL Dontae Lucas -- Played extensively first two games before leaving team
Based on those known departures, as of Dec. 8, 2021, the Seminoles only have 21 open scholarships right now, assuming they had a full 85 players on scholarship this past fall (it's possible they were actually one or two spots below that limit, which would mean they could have 22 or 23 vacancies).
Either way, that means about 10 more players will have to leave the program for the Seminoles to reach that 32-signee maximum.
Several of those spots will likely take care of themselves, as a handful of players are believed to be weighing their NFL options and/or considering possible transfer destinations. If enough spots don't open up organically, Norvell might have to have difficult conversations with a few players who are at the bottom on the depth chart.
At the end of the day, we would expect FSU to be right at the 32-mark of signees and transfers when it's all said and done.