Over the last week, the Florida State Seminoles have seen their quarterback depth potentially take a huge hit that could leave them pretty thin at the position heading into 2019.
Redshirt-junior Deondre Francois has said he will look into how NFL Draft experts test him before making a decision on his future. It was also reported that he was considering becoming a graduate transfer after finishing his degree at FSU. Another hit to the QB room came when long-time commit Sam Howell flipped to North Carolina and signed with the Tar Heels during the NCAA’s Early Signing Period.
Though it was reported he was either looking to transfer or move on to the NFL, Francois made it clear in a phone call to the Orlando Sentinel that it was still possible he returns to Florida State. However, if he decides to walk away from the Seminoles, they could be left in a tough position.
Without Francois, the program would be down to only sophomore quarterback James Blackman as the most experienced QB with freshman quarterbacks Nolan McDonald, Alex Eleyssami, and Beau Fillichio behind him.
It is easy to say that Francois is ridiculous for thinking he could turn pro, but he has shown a great arm when given time and has a receiver who can get create separation. This 2018 NFL Draft class doesn’t have a bunch of big-time quarterback prospects either, and there have been less talented passers who have been taken in the first few rounds.
With Howell making the last second flip to UNC, the ‘Noles are probably going to try and bring in another quarterback, whether it is an undecided prospect or a transfer from another school. But as it sits now, James Blackman is in line to take over the keys for head coach Willie Taggart’s offense.
Blackman only played in four games this season, so he was eligible to be redshirted under new NCAA rules and will enter next season as a redshirt sophomore. He has a ton of experience after starting 12 games during the 2017 season after Francois suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Alabama.
The 6-foot-5 quarterback from Belle Glade (FL) has played in 15 games during his time in garnet and gold but has started 13 of those. In those games, he completed 202-of-343 attempts (58.8 percent) for 2,651 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Those 13 games are the equivalent of a full season plus a bowl game, and that is a pretty O.K. season considering all of Blackman’s collegiate games have come behind a rebuilding offensive line.
There are hopes the Seminoles can lure former Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Justin Fields to Tallahassee. Fields was a five-star recruit last season, the top dual-threat quarterback and second ranked player overall by 247Sports. A source told ESPN that Fields is considering transferring and that Florida State, Oklahoma, and Ohio State are possible destinations for the super-talented freshman.
It’s probably a long shot that Florida State gets Fields though. If he does decide to leave, I think he would see Oklahoma and Ohio State as the more attractive place to play. The Sooners have accounted for the last two Heisman Trophy winners with dual-threat quarterbacks leading the charge. The Buckeyes have had a lot of success with dual-threat quarterbacks over the past 15 years as well.
The most likely option to land an FBS-caliber transfer is former Louisville Cardinals quarterback Jordan Travis. Travis was a three-star dual-threat quarterback in the same class as Fields. He only attempted 14 passes during his freshman season with the Cardinals, completing four of those for 71 yards, plus one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for 40 yards on eight rushes.
With Howell no longer in the cards at FSU, there is a spot for a quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class. A great option to take that spot is Lance LeGendre. He is a four-star dual-threat quarterback by both Rivals and 247Sports, with 247Sports predicting him as with a 100 percent chance to commit to the ‘Noles.
There are a lot of questions about quarterback depth at Florida State, but there are plenty of options for the ‘Noles heading into the 2019 offseason looking to figure this offense out before next year.