(Photo via Will Norman, twitter)
Billy Napier and Florida could have already declared the day a success with the commitment of four-star defensive lineman Kelby Collins. Instead, they added Will Norman to the mix and turned an already successful day into an unforgettable one.
Norman, a consensus four-star defensive lineman recruit from the athlete factory of IMG Academy, committed to Florida over FSU, Penn State, and Texas A&M. He also had offers from Michigan, Auburn, Oklahoma, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi, and Michigan State.
You can watch his high school highlight tape here.
The upside for Will Norman at the collegiate level is monstrous. Standing 6’5, 290 lbs, Norman only began playing football a few years ago- and immediately became a star. And with his natural physical gifts plus some college-level coaching, Norman could very well become a terror at the collegiate level one day soon.
Norman didn’t seem to take too long to figure out how devastating his raw strength could be. Scouts who watch him all seem to agree that he’s a bully in the trenches, often able to use brute force strength to push his way into the backfield. Since transferring down to IMG, though, he’s begun to showcase a little more versatility.
The footwork is good; the hands are great. He displays impressive closing speed, too, and can cut off angles to the outside of the tackle box before a running back even knows they’re there. He’s not a pass-rush specialist by design, but has shown improvement in that area as time has gone on and has some solid pass-rush moves, especially for somebody who only started playing football in 2020.
Similarly, he probably does have a better outlook on the interior of the defensive line, but he’s strong and fast enough that I could see him learning the ropes at the edge position, improving his pass-rush repertoire even more and eventually becoming a star there. Simply because he’s only played football for two years, he probably will need another year or two to develop at Florida before being trusted in big situations, but given his natural talent and how far he’s come so far, it’s reasonable to believe that he could eventually blossom into a star in the SEC.
The commitment of Will Norman is Florida’s fifth on the defensive line in this class, and the Gators’ nineteenth commitment overall in the class of 2023. Seventeen of those nineteen commits, including all five defensive linemen, are of consensus four-star caliber, meaning that at least three of thee four major ranking systems has declared them to be of four-star status.
Flying in the face of some of Billy Napier’s early critics, Will Norman is also an excellent example of how this staff can close.
Norman received an offer from Florida in the final days of January, and was openly very high on Napier and the Gators since then. He visited Florida four separate times, including three unofficial visits and one official visit on June 10. But wary of Florida’s inability to be more than “just a hat on the table” during much of the Dan Mullen era, some fans have been skeptical.
Hopefully, those same fans aren’t too skeptical anymore.