JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There is a new college football team in town, but only for two days.
The Florida State University football team is at the University of North Florida practicing in what head coach Mike Norvell and the team said are the “dog days” of fall camp. It is a way to get out of Tallahassee and focus on the team as they head into a season.
The Seminoles have a lot of preseason hype around the program. They are ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll, the highest-ranked ACC team in the country.
Jordan Travis is back as the starter at quarterback. On defense, Jared Verse decided to return to Tallahassee instead of cashing in on a payday in the NFL Draft.
“These guys have the willingness to work,” Norvell said. “The willingness to put themselves in uncomfortable situations. They believe in each other through the actions that they have. They’ve built trust together because of that. It’s a fun team to coach.”
There are eight players with local ties on the FSU roster.
That makes practice in Jacksonville somewhat of a homecoming. Raines grad K.J. Kirkland is one of those players and he is continuing his alma mater’s tradition of producing top-tier college talent.
“Big shoes to fill, you know. You got a chip on your shoulder,” Kirkland said. “I want that chip on my shoulder so I got to come in and work, keep my head down, and trust the process.”
Kirkland is entering his first season as a defensive back for the Seminoles.
“I’m really pleased with K.J.,” Norvell said. “I think he’s going to be a great player here. He’s smart, he’s athletic. He comes to work every day.”
“You know, we got a lot of vets in the room so just being able to play behind those guys and play with those guys, you learn a great bit of football,” Kirkland said. “Every day you learn something new. Every day might not be a good practice but it’s just about responding.”
FSU opens the season against LSU in a top-10 matchup in Orlando on Sept. 3. The “dog days” of fall camp on the road are crucial for a tough season schedule from the start.
“The Jacksonville days. Really started in January, but these monumental days with the sun, with the adversity, everything just piling together,” Florida State defensive back Akeem Dent said. “We’re elite.”
When Florida State began fall camp last week, the school’s board of trustees met to discuss the possibility of leaving the ACC.
“My focus right now is preparing this team to go be the best we can be this year,” Norvell said. “We have a great relationship with the ACC and you look at our past and the legacy we have in the ACC and it’s one that’s respectable.”