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Analyzing FSU’s quarterback situation

Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire

One of the many plans in progress to fix Florida State’s roster has been to build more depth at quarterback. The original plan was to hang on to four-star quarterback Sam Howell, who ultimately flipped his commitment to North Carolina on the opening day of the Early Signing Period.

With Howell backing off his pledge so late in the cycle, it instantly threw FSU into a stranglehold at the position. The ‘Noles fielded just two scholarship quarterbacks in 2018 after Bailey Hockman transferred shortly before the season began. While Deondre Francois started for 11 of the 12 games, there have been constant whispers that he’ll be leaving Tallahassee. Francois has shot down the rumors for now but if he loses his spot to James Blackman during the spring, all bets are off.

Head coach Willie Taggart and his staff went right to work on putting some of that uncertainty to bed, targeting Louisville transfer Jordan Travis. The former three-star recruit and Florida native ultimately decided to head back to his home state and restart his career in garnet and gold. Travis played in three games as a true freshman in 2018, preserving his redshirt if he’s unable to play next season due to transfer rules. However, the Seminoles are reportedly pushing for a waiver that would make Travis immediately eligible to play.

Florida State is also trying to land a high school quarterback after Howell’s defection. The two names to watch at this point are four-star recruits Lance LeGendre and John Rhys Plumlee. Both prospects are expected to visit Tallahassee prior to National Signing Day with each of them having interest in the ‘Noles. The staff will have to sell the signal-callers on their respective fits into Kendal Briles’ offense. Regardless, no high school prospects signing in February will join the team until the summer so they’ll miss the luxury of the spring practices that Howell would’ve had.

Barring another transfer, which seems unlikely at this point after FSU missed on Justin Fields, Taggart will enter his second set of spring practices with three scholarship quarterbacks. While you’d normally want four or so quarterbacks I guess three is better than two. Francois and Blackman will compete for the starting job while Travis is a player who will have starting potential later in his career. I think Blackman has a realistic chance to beat out Francois at quarterback and if that happens, as I noted above, he would likely grad-transfer for his final season.

Outside of that trio, the Seminoles could take a closer look at some of their walk-on quarterbacks. Nolan McDonald, Alex Eleyssami, and Beau Fillichio all redshirted as true freshmen a season ago. McDonald, brother of redshirt freshman tight end Cam McDonald, made multiple highlight plays during practice and was named the scout team player of the year following 2018. If any of the walk-on quarterbacks on Florida State’s roster have the potential to contribute at the collegiate level, it’s him.

FSU’s quarterback situation will fix itself out over the coming months. The Seminoles will know in about a month whether a high school quarterback will join the fold, shortly after that, spring begins.


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