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Sudden QB Competition Will Define Season for Florida State Seminoles

Florida State’s quarterback heir-apparent identified Sean Maguire last season and throughout spring drills. That is, until Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson showed up on Florida State’s doorstep in mid-May.

We’ll have to wait and see if Maguire and Golson support each other as teammates. They’ll need to for the Seminoles to live up to their favorite role in the ACC and their No. 8 national preseason ranking in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

But what if their relationship divides the locker room? Golson then could be viewed more interloper than transfer. Florida State took two team photos on Sunday – one with and one without indefinitely suspended running back Dalvin Cook. A quarterback controversy can be a metaphor for two teams.

“They’re talking, laughing, and helping each other,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher told the media as 2015 fall camp got underway over the weekend. “They’re together all the time.”

Here’s a recap of how Florida State finds itself unsettled at quarterback, even though Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston had two years eligibility remaining. Winston declared early for the NFL Draft and was the No. 1 overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Maguire, a 6-foot-3, 221-pounder from West Orange (N.J.) Seton Hall Prep arrived in Tallahassee in the 2012 recruiting class a three-star prospect along with five-star Winston; both redshirted that year. But Winston clearly separated himself into the starting role on his way to the 2013 Heisman Trophy.

As a 2013 backup with the Seminoles blowing out teams, Maguire appeared in nine games as a backup. He was the No. 3 quarterback until then-sophomore Jacob Coker was injured. Maguire finished the year 13 of 21 for 304 yards with two touchdowns. Coker subsequently transferred to Alabama.

In the 2014 season, the year Winston led the nation in negative headlines, the Seminoles were forced to rely on Maguire when Winston was suspended for the Clemson game. Maguire responded in a 23-17 overtime victory by completing 21 of 39 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown. His 74-yard TD toss tied the game 17-17 with 6:04 to play.

But Maguire’s level of play didn’t prevent Fisher from opening the door to an option at QB.
Golson (6-0, 199) of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was Notre Dame’s golden boy in 2012 when the Irish were 12-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation before losing to Alabama in the Bowl Championship Series Final. Since then, though, he has accumulated his own baggage.

He was dismissed from school academically in 2013. When he returned to the lineup in 2014 his play was inconsistent, including losing eight of 12 fumbles. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly started Malik Zaire over Golson in the Music City Bowl game win over LSU, although Golson shared playing time.

Transfers are much more common these days, and we’re long gone from the days when Notre Dame had two future NFL quarterbacks, Joe Montana and Rusty Lisch, dueling for the job throughout their college careers. But doesn’t it raise a red flag that a Notre Dame quarterback, a golden domer, would transfer as a senior? Will Golson let down Florida State at some point?

NCAA FOOTBALL: APR 18 Notre Dame Spring Game

After academic issues in South Bend, Everett Golson left Notre Dame for Florida State.

Golson appears to be fitting in with his new teammates and accepting his new status during unsupervised summer workouts.

“He’s a natural leader,” said junior cornerback Jalen Ramsey at ACC Media Days. “He’s fit right in. He’s a great person on and off the field. He fits right in to what we’re about at Florida State.”

That last sentence could be taken another way by pundits, considering Florida State’s off-field problems and Golson’s academic history.

But according to Ramsey, Golson isn’t above taking some ribbing from teammates. Ramsey, a USA Today All-American pick last year, clarified the story around town that he had intercepted Golson’s first pass in summer unsupervised workouts.

“It wasn’t his first pass,” Ramsey said. “He didn’t throw my way on the first pass. The first pass he threw my way, I did pick it off. I didn’t say anything to him. I just gave him a little smile. Some of the other guys on the team said something to him, though.”

At this point, Fisher said about all that can be expected from the first few practices.

“They had their good plays and bad plays,” Fisher said. “They have a good grasp of what’s going on. (They’re) making throws. The competition was good.”

When specifically asked about Golson, Fisher said: “Oh he has all of the gifts. He can throw, he can run, he’s a competitor, he learns well. He’s getting a grasp of what we’re doing and the consistency level – he has very good demeanor you can tell his experience level (is high) and his demeanor and the guys respond well to it.”

On Maguire, he said; “He’s really improved. He’s gotten better and better and his knowledge of what’s going on. (He) made some plays in blitz today. He stepped up in the pressure pocket. He’s had two very solid days. Very strong days.”

That leaves plenty of unanswered questions before the Seminoles open the season Sept. 5 against Texas State at home and ACC play on Sept. 18 at Boston College.

Fisher said Maguire remains listed the starter until fall camp competition, but that might only be coach-speak for the moment.

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