Florida State fans were briefly sent into a panic when, following Nick Saban’s retirement at Alabama, coach Mike Norvell was mentioned as a top candidate for the job. But Norvell made it known rather quickly he had unfinished business with FSU — both publicly and privately.

One day before Norvell inked an extension with the Seminoles, Alabama transfer offensive lineman TJ Ferguson committed to FSU.

“Coach Norvell’s message to me was just ‘I’m here’,” Ferguson said on Tuesday when he met with local reporters.

After a 13-1 season that ended with an ACC title and a gutting snub from the College Football Playoff, Norvell appears solely interested in getting FSU over the top. In pursuit of that quest, FSU signed a top-five transfer class this winter headlined by a quintet of former Alabama players.

And Norvell played a key role in their recruitment.

“His energy just never changes,” said wideout Malik Benson. “He’s a high-energy guy, and you can just never tell if he’s having a bad day. He’s always the same person. When I was able to officially meet him, it never changed from on the phone to in person. Sometimes, you don’t get the same coach once you commit somewhere. It’s not even just how he treats me, (it’s) how he treats everybody — the staff, different players on the team.”

Ferguson said his second recruitment process featured some slightly different goals. As a high school recruit, he was hyped up. In the transfer portal looking for his next school, Ferguson sought something more grounded. And that led him back to Florida State.

Norvell and his staff recruited Ferguson the first time around. They were playing catch-up late in the process, but they made a push. Ferguson said Tuesday that Norvell told him back in 2021 what the future held for Florida State.

“Everything that Coach Norvell and Coach Atkins and the whole staff told me when I was coming out of high school, when they first got here, they’ve done everything that they told me and the program has changed,” Ferguson said. “Just like they told me it would,”

“Just by buying into the standard that they’ve built here. The culture, the standard, everything that they’ve built here was what they told me coming out of high school, so I can take their word for that. And I saw it first-hand. Just an improvement over the years.”

Miami transfer Davonte Brown heard the same things as well. He spent three seasons at Central Florida before going into the transfer portal. He considered FSU prior to the 2023 season but eventually sided with Miami. A year later, he has found his way to Norvell.

“That just showed me that the plan Coach Norvell has in place, obviously it works when everyone buys in,” Brown said. “You go through growing pains as a team. It’s a process, and I feel like he understands that. For him to get everyone on the team to buy in, you see what kind of success they can have. Me being a part of that, I’m gonna just believe in his plan and try to help others around me.”