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Deondre Francois is FSU’s best bet at QB

Christopher Nee, 247Sports

Deondre Francois could take the reins of FSU’s offense earlier than expected. The redshirt freshman has a chance to start in the wake of Sean Maguire’s foot injury.

Maguire suffered a broken foot and will be out at least four weeks. That makes things easier for Francois, who many regard as the more athletic option.

And why wouldn’t they? Francois was a four-star prospect as a pro-style quarterback and also possesses dual-threat ability. He’s already drawn comparisons to former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, even before taking a snap for the Noles.

Like Winston, Francois is expected to take over as FSU’s starter during his redshirt freshman season. Both players are dual-threat quarterbacks beyond just “being able to run” and actually possess the ability to throw the football.

That should help Francois excel in Jimbo Fisher’s offensive scheme. FSU has had several mobile quarterbacks start under center during Fisher’s tenure.

Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel were effective enough to be first round draft picks. Winston was obviously the most successful of the three. If Francois can be an effective dual-threat quarterback, he should excel early.

The Seminoles are loaded with talent, perhaps even more so than Winston’s national championship team was. Dalvin Cook is a potential Heisman candidate. Travis Rudolph has the potential to be one of the best playmakers in the ACC. The ‘Noles are returning their entire offensive line and skill position players.

Florida State’s defense also returns eight starters. Even without Jalen Ramsey, the Noles have a loaded secondary and possibly their best linebacking corps in several years.

Plain and simple, FSU is stacked with talent on both sides of the football. It won’t take a prolific passer to dissect opposing defenses, rather a quarterback good enough to get the football to his playmakers.

Francois should be that and then some, even with a lack of in-game experience. His natural ability alone would spark a mediocre offense, let alone one as talented as FSU.

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The real question is whether he’s ready for the spotlight. But based on his comments to ESPN this week, that shouldn’t be much of a concern.

“I don’t think the lights will be too bright,” Francois said. “I believe in my preparation, and everything Coach Fisher has taught me is to stay humble and continue to trust the process,” he said. “If I prepare well and I continue to do everything I need to do and everything he tells me to do, I feel like I’ll be fine.”

There’s nothing wrong with a quarterback having confidence. In fact, that’s one of the traits you’d hope to see a young player display early.

Every dual-threat quarterback possesses natural athleticism. But Francois will need more than just quick feet to match the lofty expectations set by his high recruiting ranking.

He will need to have the right mindset to play the position successfully. Confidence is a crucial aspect of a quarterback’s psyche. When he throws his first few interceptions, Francois will need to display enough confidence to bounce back and not be rattled.

Based on his comments, he seems to be ready for the pressure of starting for a team ranked No. 4 overall in the preseason Coaches’ poll.

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