After helping the Huskers post some of the best passing numbers in school history each of the past two years, Jay Norvell returns to the Nebraska sideline where he serves as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Norvell was hired away from the Oakland Raiders in February of 2004, and is one of four Husker coaches – along with Callahan, John Blake and Randy Jordan – with NFL experience. Norvell used that background to guide first-year quarterback Zac Taylor to the most prolific passing season in Nebraska history in 2005.
A junior college transfer, Taylor benefitted from Norvell's knowledge as Taylor broke the Nebraska single-game records for passing yards (431), completions (36), attempts (55) and total offense (433), as well as single-season Husker marks for passing yards (2,653), completions (237) and attempts (430). Taylor, who completed passes to 14 receivers in 2005 including three with at least 40 catches, tossed 19 touchdown passes and missed tying the NU single-season touchdown record by one. He enters 2006 in line to break the Nebraska career passing yardage record despite only playing two seasons with the Huskers.
The Huskers' success under Norvell came in the second year of the West Coast Offense at Nebraska. During the first campaign, Norvell helped the Husker quarterbacks post the fifth 2,000-plus yard passing season in program history. Nebraska's 186.9 passing yards per game in 2004 were its highest in nearly three decades, since averaging 188.0 per game in 1976.
In addition to his duties coaching the quarterbacks and coordinating the offense, Norvell also directs the Huskers' Elite Quarterback Camp in the summer and oversees Nebraska's video operations.
In May 2006, Norvell was also one of 25 participants at the Expert Coaches Academy, an NCAA initiative that addresses a critical shortage in ethnic minorities in head coaching positions within college football. The academy assists coaches with career advancement, networking and exposure opportunities.
Before joining the Huskers, Norvell coached the Raider tight ends under Callahan in 2002 and 2003. A key component for Oakland, the tight ends were led by Doug Jolley who topped 30 receptions in each season, including 32 catches for 409 yards in Oakland’s drive to the AFC Championship in 2002.
In 2002, the Raiders featured the most prolific offense in the National Football League, averaging nearly 390 total offense yards per game. Norvell played a key role in designing the Raiders’ passing attack that averaged 279.7 yards per contest. Oakland culminated the season with two explosive offensive efforts in the playoffs, defeating the New York Jets 30-10, before gaining a 41-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game.
Before joining the Raiders, Norvell spent one month on Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma staff in 2002 as wide receivers coach after serving in the same capacity for the Indianapolis Colts from 1998 to 2001. While with the Colts, Norvell worked with the passing game and tutored All-Pro receiver Marvin Harrison.
In Norvell’s final season with the Colts, Harrison had 109 catches for 1,524 yards and 15 touchdowns. In 2002, Harrison became the only player in league history to have four consecutive 100-catch seasons. While he was coached by Norvell, Harrison had 385 receptions for 5,376 yards and 48 touchdowns.
Before his jump to the NFL with the Colts, Norvell had established himself as one of the top young assistants in college football. During his time as a college coach, Norvell has mentored 10 players that went on to professional careers.
Norvell spent the 1995 through 1997 seasons on Dan McCarney’s staff at Iowa State, serving as assistant head coach and quarterbacks and receivers coach. Under Norvell, the ISU passing attack improved by nealry 100 yards per game in 1997, when wideout Ty Watley led the Big 12 with 827 receiving yards.
Norvell had worked with McCarney as an assistant at Wisconsin. Norvell was with the Badgers from 1989 to 1994, serving the final five of those years with Callahan as the offensive line coach and Kevin Cosgrove as linebackers coach. Bill Busch was also on the staff in 1994 as a graduate assistant.
Norvell helped the Badger program to a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth in 1993. Wisconsin finished the season with a 10-1-1 record and a No. 6 final national ranking. In Norvell’s final season at UW, the Badgers finished 8-3-1 and played in the Hall of Fame Bowl. Both Callahan (Philadelphia Eagles) and Norvell (Iowa State) left Wisconsin following the 1994 campaign. Wide receiver Lee DeRamus was Norvell’s top product at Wisconsin, compiling 119 catches for 1,974 yards and 15 touchdowns from 1991 to 1993.
Norvell began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Iowa in 1986 before joining the Northern Iowa staff in 1988.
A native of Madison, Wis., Norvell played at Iowa from 1982 to 1985. He was an All-Big Ten defensive back in 1985 by leading the league with seven interceptions, and helped Iowa to a league title and a Rose Bowl appearance. At Iowa, Norvell was associated with five bowl teams, including two Rose Bowl squads (1981, 1985), a pair of Big Ten championship teams and a team that spent five weeks ranked No. 1 in 1985. Norvell earned a bachelor of arts degree from Iowa in 1986.
Norvell played one season as a member of the Chicago Bears in 1987.
Norvell and his wife, Kim, also a native of Wisconsin, have a son, Jaden.