After a stellar 2016 campaign that yielded ACC Rookie of the Year honors, Deondre Francois enters 2017 with lofty expectations.
The Florida State quarterback passed for 3,350 yards and accounted for 25 total touchdowns last season while leading the Seminoles to an Orange Bowl victory over Michigan. Despite losing leading rushing Dalvin Cook, leading receiver Travis Rudolph and the starting left side of the offensive line, FSU’s coaches have reason to believe that Francois could improve as a sophomore.
Despite a terrific freshman campaign, Francois has a lot of room for improvement. Last season, he was sometimes inaccurate downfield, didn’t always anticipate well and took too many sacks.
Of those three areas of struggle, the most concerning might be the last one. Why? Because sacks not only result in a loss of yardage, but they also can lead to injuries. If Francois goes down, the Seminoles could be in big trouble.
FSU has just three other scholarship quarterbacks. Two of them will be true freshmen.
The other is redshirt junior J.J. Cosentino. A 6-4, 240-pound native of Pennsylvania, Cosentino is the veteran at the position. However, in little meaningful time, has looked like a deer in headlights.
In his career, Cosentino has attempted just 19 passes, completing just seven for 46 yards. Cosentino will be trying to hold off the two true freshmen for the backup job. At this point, it doesn’t look like a small task.
Bailey Hockman, a left-hander from Georgia, has enrolled early. According to some reports, he has taken second-team reps. Hockman is the more polished quarterback among the two newcomers, but some feel James Blackman, a 6-5 pro-style passer, has more upside.
Not long ago, the future of the position was bright. Two years ago, the program had high hopes for Cosentino while Francois and De’Andre Johnson were both signed. Malik Henry was also committed. Since then, Cosentino has floundered while Johnson and Henry have both transferred, although for different reasons.
None of this is to say that the future is not bright for Florida State at the position. However, it cannot afford for that future to become the present. Cosentino has yet to prove that he can enter the game and produce. In addition, FSU hasn’t had a true freshman quarterback take a snap since Drew Weatherford in 2004; he got hurt the first play.
The Seminoles haven’t had a true freshman start at quarterback since Chip Ferguson in the 1985 Gator Bowl. There may be high hopes for Hockman and Blackman, but FSU would be best served not to see that change in 2017.