Football update: Jay Norvell’s progress in first 2 months at CSU

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Collegian | Devin Cornelius

Madeline Davis

Bailey Shepherd, Sports Reporter

With football season at all levels officially over, it’s time for sportswriters to do what they do best: start thinking about next season far too early.

Change is in the air in Fort Collins following the arrival of new head football coach Jay Norvell in December. Let’s get the lowdown on all the changes that have already taken place since Norvell took over as we begin to speculate how Norvell’s first season is going to pan out. 

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First, we’ll begin with the changes to the coaching staff. Norvell is taking many of the staff he had at the University of Nevada, Reno with him to Fort Collins. Most notably, Norvell has named Matt Mumme — who previously served as Norvell’s offensive coordinator at Nevada — as associate head coach and quarterbacks coach.

An exciting addition is also being made to the defensive side of things, with Norvell naming Freddie Banks as his defensive coordinator. Banks and Norvell go back to the 2020 season, but Banks just finished up a successful campaign as defensive coordinator with Montana State University, making it all the way to the Football Championship Subdivision championship game.

Tommy Perry will serve as the special teams coordinator and will be tasked with reviving what has been a disappointing unit in recent years for Colorado State University.

Here’s a full list of the rest of the new notable offensive and defensive hires:

Offensive personnel:

Wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator: Chad Savage (former Nevada tight ends coach)

Tight ends coach: James Finley (former Mater Dei High School wide receivers coach)

Running backs coach: Jeremy Moses (former Baytown Sterling High School assistant coach)

Offensive line coach: Bill Best (former Nevada offensive line coach)

Defensive personnel:

Linebackers coach: Adam Pilapil (former Montana State assistant defensive line coach)

Cornerbacks coach: Marcus Patton (former Tarleton State University defensive coordinator)

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Defensive line coach: Buddha Williams (former North Dakota State University defensive ends coach)

Norvell has already teased the Fort Collins faithful with his “Fort Air Raid” offensive philosophy for the upcoming season. This is a welcome sight for a program like Colorado State, which has a reputation for producing top-notch receivers.

The quarterback spot has been a lingering question mark for the program, but with Norvell having developed NFL-caliber quarterbacks such as Carson Strong, it seems as though he’s looking to bring that same development approach to CSU.

Previous CSU quarterbacks such as Todd Centeio, Matt Valecce and Jonah O’Brien have all hit the transfer portal and found new opportunities elsewhere, which seems to suggest that Norvell wants to start his tenure with a clean slate at the QB position. Norvell is bringing Clay Millen with him from Nevada to shore up the spot for now and locked up commitments from two exciting three-star QBs in Jackson Stratton and Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi.

The most notable commitment from signing day for Norvell has got to be wide receiver Mekhi Fox. Fox is a three-star wideout from Pasadena, California, and was originally committed to play at the University of California, Los Angeles before he flipped to CSU at the last minute.

If Fox is able to develop a partnership with fellow wideout Dante Wright, CSU could have one of the most dynamic receiving offenses in the conference with the right quarterback.

For a full list of CSU commits from signing day, click here.

CSU and Norvell also did a lot of business in the transfer portal, with several Nevada players following Norvell. Here is a list of some of the most notable transfers joining CSU this season:

Chigozie Anusiem: defensive back, University of California, Berkeley 

D’Andre Greeley: defensive back, City College of San Francisco

CJ Onyechi: defensive line, Rutgers University

Dontae Keys: offensive line, Florida International University

Gray Davis: offensive line, University of Nevada, Reno

Jacob Gardner: offensive line, University of Nevada, Reno

Dante Bivens: offensive line, The University of Tulsa

Henry Katleman: kicker, University of Oregon

Tory Horton: wide receiver, University of Nevada, Reno

Avery Morrow: running back, University of Nevada, Reno

Melquan Stovall: wide receiver, University of Nevada, Reno

With a revamped coaching staff and roster, Colorado State football looks exciting for the first time in a long time, and it will be interesting to follow how Norvell’s program and players develop. The first look at Norvell’s team in action will come this spring, when fans will have a chance to watch an exhibition game with the date to be determined.

Reach Bailey Shepherd at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @B_Sheps .