Deondre Francois’ legacy could ride on outcome of Florida State QB battle

Deondre Francois returns to Florida State in 2018 after a patella tendon injury ended his 2017 season in the opener against Alabama and he’s expected to battle his replacement James Blackman for the starting job.

And while Francois was more productive in his lone season as the starter than Blackman was in his, the supporting cast was worse and the distractions were more prevalent. Even if those mitigating circumstances don’t help level the playing field, Willie Taggart most certainly does.

A new coach and a new system should foster true competition and whether Francois can win that competition likely stands to define his legacy at Florida State.

Taggart’s first comments on Francois weren’t particularly kind. He shined a pretty bright spotlight on Francois’ absence from the program while he recovered from that left knee injury.

Francois wasn’t on the sideline for Florida State’s senior day game against Delaware State because he had asked to go home and Taggart made it clear that behavior won’t be accepted during his tenure.

“I told him, if you’re going to be the quarterback on a team that I’m coaching, those things can’t ever happen again,” Taggart told Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com. “You’ve got to be a guy that players want to get behind and play for and that was high school Harry what you pulled. I don’t care who you’re mad at, you don’t do that to your teammates.”

Taggart went on to mention that Francois hadn’t been held accountable leading up to the new staff’s arrival on campus. Now, he claims that Francois has answered the call and is showing the sorts of leadership necessary to contend for the job.

And he sounds excited to see where Francois is in his recovery this spring. The current expectation is that Francois will be able to participate in a limited capacity during throwing exercises and possibly even in 7-on-7s.

By the time the summer arrives and Taggart’s full team makes it to campus, Francois should be full-go and so long as Blackman doesn’t run away with things while Francois is on the mend it should set the table for a furious race to opening week against Virginia Tech.

However, it’s what happens in that period between Francois getting healthy and immediately after a starter being named that will likely define his legacy at Florida State. Because if he loses the job to a younger player, it’s hard to imagine him getting it back unless disaster strikes yet again and it’s relatively easy to imagine him either fading into the sunset or opting to transfer.

But if he proves that he’s healthy and that his experience and athleticism make him the more natural fit for Taggart’s offense, he could pick up where he left off after 2016 and potentially cement his status as one of the better quarterbacks in the program’s history.

Of course, there’s plenty of room in the middle. Perhaps Francois and Blackman share the role throughout the year or the winner ultimately struggles and cedes the role to the other player. Perhaps the loser gracefully accepts being the backup and that experienced depth provides security at the position.

But it just seems like it might be hard to keep Francois engaged if he isn’t the starter given the way he checked out after being injured in 2017. So that adds an additional layer to an already pressure-packed situation.

And the outcome will frame the way he’s remembered by many Florida State fans.

The post Deondre Francois’ legacy could ride on outcome of Florida State QB battle appeared first on Diehards.

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