MY TAKE on the three reasons to like Charlie Strong's hire of Jay Norvell as Texas WR coach. I'll support each reason after I list them.
1) Jay Norvell has a long resume of recruiting and developing WR talent - even though it became hard to recruit WRs to an offense with Blake Bell at QB (after Landry Jones). Norvell has recruited extensively in Texas, California (from his days as OC at UCLA) and nationally.
Anyone complaining about Norvell because he was just let go at OU, remember this: OU's offense averaged 36.4 ppg this season (No. 20 nationally), with the nation's No. 10 rush offense.
Meanwhile, OU's defense gave up 25.9 ppg - the most in the 16-year Bob Stoops era and finished 55th nationally.
As one Big 12 coach texted me Friday, "I like Jay a lot. Good coach and recruiter. He was scapegoated at OU."
Since arriving at OU as an assistant OC and WR coach in 2008, Norvell has had six WRs drafted into the NFL (and Sterling Shepard in 2015 is expected to be his seventh):
* Juaquin Iglesias (3rd rd, 2009)
* Justin Brown (7th, 2013)
2) Norvell worked with Shawn Watson while the two were at Nebraska together from 2004-06. Familiarity and chemistry on a staff is big, especially when the position coach coming in has been a longtime offensive coordinator/WR coach.
3) Norvell was part of an offense at OU that I think is a model of multiplicity - combining the best elements of pro-style (power running with 2 backs and 2 TEs) and the spread (getting space players the ball in space). While Norvell has been at OU, the Sooners have been able to pound people with RBs such as DeMarco Murray and Samaje Perine, while having the ability to spread people out and sling it.
Now, I'll support those three reasons:
Norvell, 51, brings a ton of experience from both the college and NFL ranks and has certainly recruited extensively in Texas and nationally. To get Norvell, who has been an offensive coordinator at UCLA, Nebraska and OU, as a WR coach is a solid hire, in my opinion.
Strong was looking at some other WR coach candidates who either didn't have the experience recruiting in Texas or didn't have the skins on the wall as a position coach. Norvell checks both those boxes.
For those who say Norvell couldn't recruit, he recruited and developed DeJuan Miller, Jaz Reynolds, Kenny Stills and Sterling Shepard, all of whom took turns sticking it to Texas at various times. He also attracted some transfers, such as Jalen Saunders from Fresno State and Dorial Green-Beckham of Mizzou, even though DGB was ruled ineligible for 2014 and is now headed to the NFL.
People may point to a lack of impact recruits from 2011 to 2013, with the exception of Shepard (2012), who grew up with Bob Stoops basically as a surrogate father. But once Landry Jones left as QB, it was hard to recruit WRs to an offense with Blake Bell (2013) as the QB - plain and simple. Lack of a QB always hurts WR recruiting. OU still hasn't caught up from a depth perspective.
Even so, in 2014, Norvell helped develop WR Sterling Shepard into a first-team All-Big 12 selection.
Despite being limited in several games and missing one full game due to injury, Shepard caught 51 passes for 970 yards (No. 9 on the OU single-season list) and also tied the Oklahoma single-game receptions record with 15 against Kansas State. He tied the mark of Justin Brown, Broyles and Jalen Saunders, who all played under Norvell.
Bottom line, Norvell has always developed players at the WR position.
Three of the top four players on Oklahoma’s all-time receptions chart played under Norvell’s direction – Ryan Broyles (349), Kenny Stills (204) and Juaquin Iglesias (202). Five of the top six single-season reception marks have come under Norvell.
The top 12 single-game marks in Sooners history came under Norvell with two others tied for 13th. Shepard also produced two of the top five single-game receiving yards performances with 215 against TCU and 197 versus Kansas State.
In the NFL, Norvell coached Marvin Harrison as WRs coach in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts. And he's helped recruit big-time talent to OU.
Again, very solid hire, in my opinion.
See what Longhorn fans are saying here
Strong hires Norvell as WR coach
Not a member of HornsDigest?
Get the best UT recruiting and team coverage for just $4.17 per month!
1. Select the "Annual Pass" option right here.
2. Enjoy HD’s attack-free message board community and unparalleled insider information in HD Only on Wednesday nights!
Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights
Get 10% off Longhorns tickets, tickets to other sporting events as well as concerts by joining HornsDigest.com. Click here to get discounted tickets!
Get your Longhorns fan gear Right here!