The Daily Nole

FSU Preseason Position Breakdown: Quarterbacks

Jeff Romance/FSU athletics

The quarterback situation at Florida State is probably the most scrutinized for the Seminoles and one of the most scrutinized throughout the entire country.

Redshirt senior Sean Maguire is the incumbent for FSU with six career starts under his belt which include victories over ranked teams like Clemson and Florida. Maguire however, is coming off an injury and is being pushed by younger players with more upside.

Though Maguire wasn’t highly-recruited out of high school, he has a big arm, but younger players like Malik Henry and Deondre Francois can sling it as well. Each, also are much more mobile than the New Jersey senior.

1. The Name to Know: Deondre Francois
Among the youngsters who hope to unseat Maguire, redshirt freshman Deondre Francois seems to be the player most capable of doing it. Francois lacks ideal size at 6-1, but is extremely accurate and is probably the best athlete the Seminoles have at the quarterback position.

Francois looked to handle the offense with great command during the spring game in Orlando, but he did throw two interceptions and each were clearly bad decisions. With a plethora of talent on offense, avoiding turnovers will be objective No. 1 for Francois or whoever is taking the snaps from center for FSU.

2. Burning Question: Who Starts at Quarterback?
Like Francois, Malik Henry impressed during the spring, but the battle for the starting quarterback job at Florida State looks to be a 2-man race between Maguire and Francois. There’s no denying that Maguire replacing Everett Golson as the starter midseason in 2015 increased the offense’s capabilities of making big plays downfield in the passing game. The problem with Maguire is that he has a tendency to force throws. Though he was playing on a severely injured foot, Maguire threw four interceptions his last time out in a 38-24 Peach Bowl loss at Houston. Maguire’s foot injury forced him to miss all of spring practice.

As mentioned before, Francois is an accurate passer with the capability to make plays with his legs. That’s something Maguire really cannot do, but with a more experienced offensive line, that may not be a necessity either. In Maguire’s absence this spring, Francois reportedly won over teammates with his work ethic. It remains to be seen whether that’s enough for head coach Jimbo Fisher to give Francois the reigns over his offense.

3. Put Your Future Stock In: Malik Henry
A true freshman from California, Malik Henry shined in the spring game as an early enrollee, finishing with the best passing day of any FSU quarterback. At 6-2 and 185 pounds, Henry would greatly benefit from putting on weight. Though Henry has some mobility, his biggest strength is his arm.

While the consensus is that the quarterback race this season is between Francois and Maguire, Henry doesn’t look to be a player that plans on being complacent with a role as a backup. Expect Henry to compete for the starting job as early as 2017.

4. Other Names to Know: J.J. Consentino
Once a 4-star prospect out of high school in Pennsylvania, J.J. Consentino’s time at Florida State seems to be running out. Now a redshirt sophomore, Consentino has been lapped by younger players. At 6-4 and nearly 240 pounds, Consentino has ideal size, but has failed to make much of a splash in Tallahassee. Consentino looked extremely rattled in relief of Maguire during the Peach Bowl and failed to complete a pass in four attempts during the spring game.

5. Food for Thought
One of the biggest knocks on Maguire has been his perceived knack for turning the ball over. Much of that criticism however is overstated and based largely on his last performance against Houston. It’s true that Maguire has gotten away with other risky throws that weren’t interception, but for his career, Maguire is averaging a pick less than once per 32 pass attempts. To put that in perspective, former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston averaged an interception every 30.4 pass attempts during his time at FSU.

If Deondre Francois were to win the starting job for Florida State, he would become the sixth redshirt freshman to start a game for FSU since 2001 and the fourth to start the season-opener. The Seminoles open the season in Orlando against Ole Miss in a Labor Day contest that should draw plenty national appeal. The good news for Francois is each of FSU’s three other redshirt freshman quarterbacks to start on opening day all won their first start, including two on Labor Day.

Though he’s considered the odd man out at this point, Malik Henry is hoping to become the first true freshman to start a game for the Seminoles at quarterback since Chip Ferguson in 1985.

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