The Texas Longhorns didn't have a wide receivers coach in place by the end of the dead period, as expected, but it didn't take head coach Charlie Strong much longer to add former Oklahoma Sooners co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Jay Norvell to the staff, the school announced on Friday evening.
Norvell replaces Les Koenning, who was let go by Strong after the Texas Bowl debacle, along with tight ends coach Bruce Chambers. The tight ends/special teams coach position remains open.
Norvell was fired by Oklahoma as part of major offensive staff changes that also included the termination of co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh Huepel and interviewed with Strong earlier in the week at the AFCA convention in Louisville.
However, it looked as if Norvell was set to join the Wisconsin staff on Tuesday, seemingly eliminating him from contention.
Ultimately, he was chosen over other candidates like South Florida wide receivers coach Ron Dugans, who worked with Strong and assistant head coach for the offense/quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson at Louisville.
"The first thing that really drew me to this opportunity was the chance to work with Charlie Strong," Norvell said in a release through the school. "I've followed his career for a long time, and after sitting down and talking to him, seeing his vision for the program, the recruiting philosophy, his values, every area of the team, I was totally impressed. Our visit convinced me I wanted to be a part of that championship vision at Texas.
"Charlie and I have a lot in common. I believe in developing young people on and off the field. I'm a very disciplined person, love my players, and I pour myself into them every day. I could really feel and see that in Charlie when he talked about the team and the players."
The connection to Strong came through the time that he spent working with Watson at Nebraska from 2004 to 2006, when he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when Watson was the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator.
In fact, Norvell was also the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at UCLA in 2007, so he brings a significant amount of experience as a play caller and in working with the tempo offenses that Oklahoma ran for years. The former Iowa defensive back also has NFL experience after working with the Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders.
"Jay is a guy that has always had an outstanding reputation, and when I had a chance to talk to him, what impressed me the most was his energy, passion and drive to be successful," Strong said. "The thing you see and everyone talks about with him is that he's a great teacher, very detailed and organized, and he really develops his players. He's coached so many great players, gets the most out of his guys, and they really like playing for him. He brings a lot to our staff, is very familiar with the Big 12 and has experience recruiting in Texas. We're really excited he's joining us."
Norvell will almost certainly be taking a pay cut after making $400,000 at Oklahoma last season.
His biggest immediate contribution to the staff could be as a recruiter. Targets like former commit John Burt don't have a relationship with Norvell, but Aledo wide receiver Ryan Newsome does since Norvell was his primary recruiter and helped the Sooners land an official visit last fall before failing to make the cut for his final three.
Texas has long been thought to be the leader with Newsome and the prior relationship there could help seal the deal for the Longhorns.
At Oklahoma, he was a solid recruiter who was able to land high-profile wide receiver prospects like Justin McCay, Durron Neal, Sterling Shepard, and Kenny Stills. However, it's not clear which area he will recruit, though the Metroplex seems like the most likely option.
As a wide receivers coach, he deserves some credit for tutoring three of the top four players on Oklahoma's all-time receptions chart -- Ryan Broyles (349), Kenny Stills (204) and Juaquin Iglesias (202).