Deondre Francois won over his teammates with his toughness in his first season as Florida State’s starting quarterback and it’s easy to see why.
Despite taking hit after hit after hit, Francois continued to pull himself up and carry on, leading the Seminoles to a 10-3 campaign as a redshirt freshman.
However, an aspect that Francois’ game lacked last year was that he never stepped into the role of the vocal leader, normally filled by the QB. Instead, Francois was regularly cited by Jimbo Fisher and fellow players as more of the lead-by-example player.
This wasn’t a problem on last year’s team with Dalvin Cook and DeMarcus Walker each more than willing to take on the vocal leader roles on offense and defense, respectively.
With both of them now moved on the NFL, though, new leaders will need to emerge if the Seminoles want to realize their potential this year. It’s still early, but so far, Francois is leading that charge.
“He's just become a better leader and a better player. He had a great offseason. If it was a 7-on-7, he was always being vocal and giving everybody the details that they need to be successful,” FSU tight end Ryan Izzo said of Francois. “He gives off a confidence about him. It translates to the wide receivers and everybody.”
“He’s definitely taking charge,” cornerback Tarvarus McFadden added. “He definitely embraces that role and we all follow him.”
Statistically, Francois had an up-and-down freshman campaign. He demonstrated elite toughness and showed the potential of his arm, especially on longer throws. But, he also struggled with reading the defense in a timely manner and accurately throwing shorter passes consistently.
Looking back, Fisher sees a lot of good from his first season as starter.
“Last year, he proved he could do it on the field,” Fisher said. “You talk situational football, as good as anybody.
With as much talent as there is surrounding Francois on this year’s roster, the quarterback play has a strong chance to make or break the lofty aspirations the Seminoles have set for themselves in the upcoming season.
Right now, Fisher feels that Francois is ready to take the next step.
“From a confidence standpoint, I definitely think [that he has improved],” Fisher said. “He gets it, he's going to come back and lead us.”