Florida State's quarterback battle became clearer Saturday when the Seminoles announced Sean Maguire will be sidelined for four weeks and will have surgery on a broken bone in his right foot.
The news paves the way for redshirt freshman Deondre Francois to become FSU's starter for the Sept. 5 season opener against Mississippi in Orlando, and likely beyond.
"Sean is someone with as much character as anybody on our football team," coach Jimbo Fisher said after Saturday's practice. "You talk about endurance, tough, team guy, does everything. Of course he's down and felt bad, but there was no hesitation on what to do and how to do it. I have the utmost respect for Sean Maguire."
And now Fisher will have to put the utmost faith in Francois to lead a program with realistic national championship expectations.
The 19-year-old Orlando native was Rivals' No. 1 dual-threat quarterback recruit in the country in 2015 and had an up-and-down spring game with two successful two-minute drills but two interceptions and a fumble.
During FSU's first four practices this week, Maguire shared first-team reps with Francois, who was expected to challenge for, if not win, the starting job, even before Maguire was hurt Wednesday.
Maguire, a 6-foot-3, 232-pound redshirt senior, isn't expected to return until the second or third game of the season. FSU's second game is against Charleston Southern on Sept. 10, followed by its ACC opener Sept. 17 at Louisville.
"He was sad about it, but there was no hesitation from him on quickly getting it fixed and coming back as soon as possible," Fisher said about Maguire.
This is Maguire's second injury in less than nine months. He missed spring practices after having surgery on a broken left ankle sustained in a Peach Bowl loss to Houston in January. Maguire started five of the final six games last season, completing 59.3 percent with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Francois' potential and athleticism as a running and passing QB has drawn comparisons to former FSU standout and current Bucs starter Jameis Winston.
This would be the second time in four years a redshirt freshman has started at QB for the Seminoles. In 2013, Winston won the Heisman and led them to the school's third national championship after a 13-0 season.
A bigger concern for Fisher would be who steps in if Francois was injured. J.J. Cosentino has seen limited action and struggled in the Peach Bowl while true freshman Malik Henry was an early enrollee but hasn't worked with the first unit.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.