2021 Spring Position Previews: Quarterback

Here we are again. The start of Spring Camp is right around the corner and Florida State remains filled with question marks, much similar to the ones we’ve had for the past three years. However, this year feels… different. Head Coach Mike Norvell killed the recruiting trail this past offseason, but where he really excelled was in the transfer portal. Headlining the eight different transfers was former UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton.

Unless you started paying attention to college football in 2018, Milton is one every fan remembers. I mean come on, he’s a former national champion, right? Okay, okay, he’s not. However, he led the 2017 UCF football team to an undefeated record just two years after posting an 0-12 season. During that 2017 tenure as starting quarterback, Milton threw for 4037 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also added 613 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground. To put that passing offense into perspective, Jameis Winston threw for 4057 yards and 40 touchdowns during his Heisman season.

So what does this mean for Florida State’s quarterback room?

Projected Quarterback Depth Chart

  1. McKenzie Milton
  2. Chubba Purdy
  3. Jordan Travis
  4. Tate Rodemaker

Keep in mind, above is just what I expect to happen by the end of Spring Camp and what we will see at the start of the 2021 season.

McKenzie Milton being QB1 is almost guaranteed. Bringing in a guy who was a borderline Heisman Finalist (Finished 8th in 2017) isn’t something that screams “Backup!”. McKenzie Milton is who Mike Norvell believes can start the turnaround that is so desperately needed at Florida State. If this wasn’t the case, Milton would not be on FSU’s campus as a part of its football team.

Even with Milton’s historic track record, there are some questions to be raised. Coming off a knee injury that almost led to the amputation of his leg is something to be worried about. As much as we don’t want to believe it, Florida State fans know to expect the worst. It is just something we’ve all learned through the past few upsetting seasons. But, as per usual throughout the offseason, we have heard nothing but positives about Milton’s leg. Mike Norvell has said, “McKenzie looks great, he’s moving very well.” But after hearing similar things about Deondre Francois in 2018, we won’t look for Milton’s running to be involved until proven otherwise. This is a large factor that will be looked at throughout Spring camp and, if the leg is fine, we can guarantee the former UCF quarterback will be under center for FSU’s first snap in 2021.

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Regardless of Milton’s ability to be a run threat, his arm talent alone is enough to pencil him in as QB1 in 2021. Milton truly brings something that FSU has lacked since the Jameis Winston days; accuracy, velocity, improvisation. While the injury raises a question on his ability to improvise, his pocket presence is still where it once was, which should suffice given how incredible he was at it back at UCF.

If you’re a betting man, put your money on McKenzie Milton in 2021.

As far as second-string quarterbacks go, Chubba Purdy might be the most talented player in the nation at that spot. Purdy’s poise and decision-making did show some problems in 2020, but being able to learn a year under a 23-year-old, former college star will do numbers for his future as a starting quarterback at FSU. If Milton goes down to injury in 2021 (which is something I don’t even want to be thrown into the universe with FSU’s luck), expect Purdy to come in and fill his role.

Purdy gives you something very similar to what we saw Milton do at UCF. Tremendous north/south speed with throw power and accuracy. I can’t imagine Mike Norvell leaving someone like him on the bench for another year if something unexpected happens to Milton.

What does all of this mean for Jordan Travis? I’ve been telling people since McKenzie Milton made his Florida State decision official that Jordan Travis is too talented to keep on the bench. Quarterbacks with the talent Jordan Travis has don’t come around every year, and he’s not someone we would be happy to see at NC State in a few years if you get what I’m saying.  Which is why I believe, he won’t be on the bench in 2021. Some of you might be confused considering he’s third-string on my depth chart, but I think he plays a different role than starting quarterback in 2021. I believe Florida State will throw Travis out there in a similar fashion to what we saw him do against Miami early in the season. I don’t think it will be a wide receiver role, but more of a change of pace guy who can come in when the offense is stagnant or slowing down and get FSU down the field in a different way than McKenzie Milton does. Whether it is scripted plays, creative packages, or simply a zone-read until his legs fall off, Jordan Travis is a guy who should be on the field somehow, someway.

Look at Florida State’s offense with Jordan Travis last year… Now, look at it without Jordan Travis. Two similar stories with different endings. Jordan Travis is a playmaker. Plain and simple. He can get you down the field in two plays or can get you down the field in 10 plays in 2 minutes. What has Mike Norvell’s focal point been in finding players? Playmaking. He has stressed how important it is to have playmakers on the field, and leaving your best one on the bench doesn’t seem very Mike Norvell-esc.

Last on the depth chart would have to be Tate Rodemaker. Rodemaker is what he is, an accurate pocket passer who needs time in the pocket. While I think Rodemaker’s got some talent, there are simply better options above him on the depth chart.

With all that being said, fans can confidently say that Florida State has true depth and versatility in the quarterback room. Something that hasn’t been said in Tallahassee over the past few seasons. With Spring Camp coming soon to begin the position battle, expect all four guys to come out with something to prove. I expect constant competition throughout these practices, and I know Mike Norvell wouldn’t have it any other way.

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