Deondre Francois is in an interesting place heading into Florida State’s 2018 season.
The rising junior will hardly walk right back into the starting quarterback job he left after suffering a torn patella in FSU’s season opener against Alabama.
Instead, whenever he returns, be it spring practice or fall, Francois will battle it out with returning starter James Blackman and additional talented 2017 QB signee Bailey Hockman.
There are reasons to believe Francois will win the job back (his play on the field has been the best of the three to this point, and he is the best fit in Willie Taggart’s system), but it’s not remotely close to a done deal.
Like the head coach Francois committed to, Taggart is a quarterback guy. He led Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee HS to the state title game his senior year and still has the most rushing touchdowns (47) and third most rushing yards (3,997) at Western Kentucky, where he played his entire collegiate career.
As such, Taggart knows what he’s looking for in his quarterbacks.
“I think first and foremost is leadership. You've got to have a guy that's going to have great leadership. And a guy that does things the right way,” Taggart said. “Decision-making is really important. You want a tough, smart, highly competitive kid, especially at that position. But a guy that can deal with adversity and can make plays under pressure.”
With Francois, some of this applies nicely to him while other parts still leave room for improvement. Francois has demonstrated toughness in spades and has a proven track record of handling adversity and making plays under pressure. Leadership? How he has handled this season casts that into some doubt.
Since suffering his injury, Francois has had a few periods of time when he would retweet people on Twitter telling him how much better this FSU team would be doing if he was healthy or that he is among the most important players in college football. With everything else at FSU going south around him, that’s an especially bad look.
Francois’ most questioned moment of the year was when he skipped FSU’s Senior Day matchup with Delaware State to head back to his hometown of Orlando and hang out with suspended wide receiver Da’Vante Phillips instead of thanking and honoring the guys he has worked alongside for three years.
It’s unclear whether Taggart was made aware of this situation or if he picked up on it himself. Either way, he commented on it when addressing the media Thursday.
“We've had a chance to talk, talk about our vision, and talk about what I expect of him as a quarterback on the football team,” Taggart said. “But right now I just want him to be around this football team and be with his teammates and be supportive with his teammates and finish the season.”
So far, that more active role has taken shape throughout FSU’s bowl practices with Francois in charge of choosing the music during practice while he continues his recovery.
With a medical redshirt for the 2017 season giving Francois as many as three years of eligibility left, he has plenty of time to leave his mark at FSU. Only time will tell exactly what that legacy will be.