Florida State has failed to sign a high school QB recruit for the second year in a row, after John Rhys Plumlee picked Ole Miss on Monday and Lance LeGendre, a prospect FSU fully expected to sign, chose Maryland. That follows not landing Sam Howell in the Early Signing Period.
So this is bad.
As of February 6, 2019, FSU has just one eligible scholarship quarterback on its roster: James Blackman. In case you missed it, Deondre Francois was removed from the program over the weekend.
While LeGendre was not guaranteed to qualify academically, FSU pursued him like it expected him to be more likely to qualify than not.
And while there was no guarantee that LeGendre would overtake highly touted walk-on Nolan McDonald (a three-star in the 2018 class) on the depth chart for 2019, as McDonald has a head start of a year in the system, having LeGendre in the fold would certainly have been better than whiffing, which is what Willie Taggart and his staff did.
Let’s establish how bad it could be, based on different potential scenarios from least bad, to absolute disaster.
If Florida State lands a graduate transfer, or an immediately-eligible transfer ...
If one of these things happen, then this will all be written off as no big deal, though not forgotten. That’s because FSU would then have multiple scholarship players eligible to play, meaning a backup with at least some experience would be available to back up or compete with Blackman.
There still are some potential graduate transfers on the market, though clearly pursuit of one will have to be balanced with the need to keep James Blackman happy and on the roster.
It’s also possible that transfer QB Jordan Travis gets a hardship waiver to be immediately eligible, though the chance of success seems almost impossible to know. Travis was a c/o 2018 recruit who many schools liked. He signed with Louisville, but Louisville was a disaster in 2018, and he left after only a few short months.
Travis is a reason why missing on LeGendre is mostly a 2019 season problem, and not likely a long-term one, though it’s not a good thing in any case. If he and FSU want, Travis can be at Florida State through the 2022 season, though right now, the 2019 season is the most important.
If this happens, FSU’s depth for the year should be fine.
... or another high school player ...
The pickings out there are quite slim as far as available high school players, but while unlikely, it is not out of the realm of possibility that FSU reaches out and brings on another high school player into the 2019 class.
If this happens, FSU’s depth for the year should be about as OK as it was if it had signed LeGendre, though perhaps less talented (assuming that LeGendre qualified).
If it does nothing ...
... it isn’t necessarily disaster, but it increases the chance of disaster.
Not only is Willie Taggart’s #DoSomething slogan ripe for mocking after whiffing on quarterbacks for two-consecutive signing days, but if FSU does not bring in a scholarship-quality QB who is eligible for 2019, then FSU will only have Blackman and McDonald, who is a walk-on.
Realistically, this dramatically raises the risk of a bad season, due to potential injury. And FSU’s offensive line is likely to be average at best, so QBs will probably not be well protected in 2019.
It could also limit the types of plays that can be called by new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles. Blackman is a skinny player, and without a legitimate backup QB (which, in fairness, LeGendre might not have been), the number of run plays which can be called might be limited.
If this ends up being the case, FSU fans might take a bit of solace that a Kendal Briles’ coordinated offense once won the Russel Athletic bowl with literally ZERO QUARTERBACKS, running all manner of creative Wildcat-style plays to the tune of 645 yards on 84 carries.
And FSU has several players on its roster who were tremendous QBs in high school playing this style of offense, including Cam Akers, D.J. Matthews, and Travis Jay. You can bet that several of them will get emergency QB reps in practice in this scenario.
But that is so far from an ideal scenario.
If FSU enters the season with Blackman and McDonald as its only eligible quarterbacks, and Blackman goes down, Taggart will deserve every bit of criticism he’ll receive.
But if Blackman makes it through the year healthy ...
Then this will all be looked upon as a misstep, but not one with enormous consequences. Come 2020, FSU would project to have James Blackman with two years of eligibility remaining, and Jordan Travis with three, in addition to Jeff Sims, the 2020 QB for whom FSU beat out Penn State, Georgia, Virginia Tech, and Tennessee over the weekend.
Not taking a quarterback for two-consecutive years ratchets up the degree of difficulty for Willie Taggart’s Seminoles. We’ll see if FSU really goes into the year with just James Blackman as an eligible scholarship QB.