2016 Spring Preview: Quarterbacks

Everett Golson,Sean Maguire (r-Sr),Malik Henry*
,J.J. Consentino (r-So),
,Deondre Francois (r-Fr),
* = early enrollee
Bold indicates a returning starter

Another year, another quarterback competition.

One year removed from a competition to see who would replace Jameis Winston, Florida State finds itself in a similar situation. Notre Dame grad transfer Everett Golson was able to win the job for a majority of 2015, but his departure means that another talented crop of quarterbacks will have to fight for the job this offseason. Luckily for Jimbo Fisher, he has recruited the quarterback position fairly well over the past couple of recruiting cycles and there are several former blue-chip recruits who are ready to step up.

After Everett Golson was benched halfway through the 2015 season, it was Sean Maguire (#10) who was called upon to start for the Seminoles. A former three-star prospect from the 2012 class, Maguire backed up Winston for two years before earning major playing time last season. The difference with Maguire in the game was clear from the first snap. While Everett Golson clearly did not have a good grasp of the system and the passing game was limited, Maguire was more than willing to throw the ball around the field. He has been in the system for four years now and likely knows the passing game better than anyone not named Jimbo Fisher or Randy Sanders.

But while Maguire certainly provided a spark to the passing game, he also showed some limitations. While he certainly has a great arm, he doesn’t read the field well at times. He throws into traffic more than you’d like to see from your starting quarterback and doesn’t show the best ball security. This was exemplified with his four-interception performance versus Houston in the Peach Bowl. He is also the least mobile out of all the quarterbacks on Florida State’s roster at the moment. So while Maguire might be the most experienced quarterback, he certainly has some limitations to his game.

Unfortunately, Maguire will be held out of spring practice while he recovers from the fractured ankle he suffered in the Peach Bowl. While Maguire’s courage to come back into the game after the serious ankle injury will likely go down in Florida State lore, it might have also hurt his chances at participating in spring practice. This doesn’t bode well for Maguire’s chances at winning the starting job, as it will allow the younger underclassmen to gain the upper hand through spring practices.

The only other quarterback on the roster to receive playing time is J.J. Consentino (#16). Consentino entered the game periodically in backup duty last season but was thrust into action when Maguire initially suffered the ankle injury in the bowl game. In what was possibly his first audition towards the quarterback job, he failed to impress. He was sacked twice and only completed one of four passes for five yards. While the situation might have been too much for Consentino at the time, it certainly wasn’t the spark Jimbo Fisher was looking for in a guy that will be competing for the quarterback job this offseason.

But while Consentino didn’t impress in the bowl game, he certainly has all the tools that Jimbo Fisher looks for in his quarterbacks. He has the best size out of all the quarterbacks on the roster at 6-4, 239 lbs. and has a cannon for an arm to boot. But while all the tools are there, the mental makeup of the game will be a question for Consentino moving forward. How well has he grasped the system in his two years on campus? How much time has he spent in the film room? Because Maguire will be held out of spring practice, Consentino will likely enter spring practice as the first string quarterback simply due to seniority, but he will have to work hard to fend off of the talented freshmen.

Perhaps the most intriguing name on Florida State’s roster at the moment is Deondre Francois (#12). Francois redshirted last season in his first year on campus, but is quickly making a name for himself in the film room and in practice. Francois was a four-star recruit coming out of high school, but was by far the most impressive quarterback at the 2015 Under Armour All-American game and has shown that he has all the intangibles to be a starter at the college level. While he is a smaller quarterback at 6-1, 203 lbs., he has a lightning-quick release and great mobility as well.

Like Consentino, Francois will be given every opportunity in spring practice to win the job. In fact, it wouldn’t be out of the question to name Francois the favorite to win the starting quarterback job at the moment. Maguire is out for spring practice and Consentino has already failed to impress in limited action. However, he will need to keep competing, because there is a talented freshman on the roster who will also look to earn the job this spring as well.

Florida State signed a single quarterback last recruiting cycle in Malik Henry (#TBA). At one point, Henry was rated as a five-star recruit per multiple recruiting services but maturity issues pushed him back down to a four-star recruit. Still, Henry was one of the most talented quarterback recruits last year and showcased that with an impressive performance at the Under Armour All-American game. He has a skinny build at the moment at 6-3, 184 lbs., but an offseason in the weight room should add some much needed muscle to his frame.

While Henry has all the tools to compete for the starting job this offseason, there are also some questions that need to be answered. How well can he grasp the system as a true freshman? Will he put the necessary time in the film room throughout spring and fall camp? Can he put these maturity issues behind him? If Henry can answer these questions, there is no doubt that he is able to compete for the starting job as a true freshman.

This spring will likely be the most exciting quarterback since Winston, Clint Trickett and Jacob Coker competed for the job in 2013. Each of the three competitors will be given first team snaps and every opportunity to win the job. Fortunately for Consentino, Francois and Henry, Maguire’s injury will allow them to gain an upper hand on the fifth-year senior. But if none of those three impress in spring practice, Maguire will jump back into the competition in fall camp.

Grab some popcorn, people. It’s going to be a fun spring.

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