Former University of Central Arkansas (UCA) wide receiver Mike Norvell is set to take over one of the most promising college football coaching vacancies in the country with the University of Memphis.
Norvell was a wide receiver at UCA from 2001-2005, setting the school’s record for most career receptions. Norvell’s team led UCA to the Division II playoffs in the 2001 and 2005 season including a conference championship in ’05.
“He was a grinder, a really hard worker,” said Arizona State offensive-line coach Chris Thomsen, who coached at Central Arkansas at the time. “He brought it every day, and people respected him for it.” [source]
After graduating from UCA he spent one year as a graduate assistant with the bears before moving on coach wide receivers at Tulsa and Pittsburgh before arriving at Arizona State (ASU) as the offensive coordinator under current head coach Todd Graham.
At ASU Norvell’s team became a powerhouse in the PAC-12 south, finishing first in the division in 2013 and second in 2012 and 2014. Despite 2015 being a down year for the Sun Devils, Norvell’s office is ranked 3rd in the conference in passing yards and fifth in total offense. Both an increase over previous years.
“Mike is the best assistant football coach I’ve ever had,” ASU head coach Todd Graham said. “He’s the total package when it comes to understanding offense, defense and then recruiting. He’s just off the charts.”
Norvell becomes the Memphis Tigers’ head coach at a critical point in their history. The Tigers experienced their best season in program history, starting 8-0 including a win over rival and at the time #13 ranked Ole Miss, rising to be #13 in the country themselves before dropping three of their final four games.
The season earned then-Tiger head coach Justin Fuente a opportunity to coach at Virginia Tech to replace legendary coach Frank Beamer.
The Tigers could return star QB Paxton Lynch, leading rusher Doroland Dorceus, and three of their top four receivers to make for a potentially potent offence under Norvell for this first year. The Tigers should compete once again with Houston and Navy for the top of the American Conference.