Willie Taggart tells reporters Deondre Francois will be FSU’s starter

OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times FSU Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois (12) warms up during practice at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.
OCTAVIO JONES | Times FSU Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois (12) warms up during practice at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.
Published August 27 2018
Updated August 27 2018

Florida State has named Deondre Francois its starting quarterback for next week's opener against No. 20 Virginia Tech, coach Willie Taggart told reporters Monday morning.

Taggart's decision isn't a major surprise. Francois, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound redshirt junior, looked sharp during preseason camp for the No. 19 Seminoles. He also might have more upside than Taggart's other two options, sophomore James Blackman and redshirt freshman Bailey Hockman. Francois was Rivals' No. 1 dual-threat prospect in the country in 2015.

Francois started for the Seminoles as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and began last season as the starter, too, before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Alabama. He worked his way back from that and, despite being limited in spring practice, obviously impressed the new coaching staff enough to regain the job.

"When he's in there running the offense, it's a lot more efficient and a lot less mistakes," Taggart told reporters.

The last part is key, on and off the field.

On the field, Francois seems to fit Taggart's Gulf Coast Offense. Because he wasn't a full participant in spring practice, he started behind mentally. But he feels that he understands the system well enough to make the kind of quick reads and fast, accurate passes Taggart requires. Francois has already proven, too, that he can run and take hit after hit.

"It's a lot of gray area in this offense," Francois said at FSU's media day earlier this month. "I feel like I manage that gray area well. I can use my legs a little bit, although I do like to pass more than I like to run. I feel like this offense will help me open up my strength of running."

In April, police found marijuana in his bedroom in a case that ended with Francois agreeing to a pre-arrest diversion program. Three months earlier, police investigated a domestic violence accusation against him by his girlfriend. That case ended quickly without an arrest or charge because there were conflicting statements and no independent witnesses.

Francois said the long offseason forced him to mature. One tangible change: He moved back on campus to be with his team more.

"My decision making has improved a lot," Francois said at media day. "Just growing up, knowing that my team comes first."

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