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Three’s a crowd in the Florida State quarterback room

And that’s a good thing. The Seminoles now have three scholarship quarterbacks entering 2019.
Florida State Seminoles quarterback James Blackman throws during practice at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Tuesday. (OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times)
Florida State Seminoles quarterback James Blackman throws during practice at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Tuesday. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published Aug. 13, 2019
Updated Aug. 13, 2019

BRADENTON ― Perhaps the best way to assess FSU’s progress at quarterback this calendar year is in terms of square footage.

Here in the humid throes of preseason camp, the ’Noles now have a bona fide quarterback room.

Not long ago, a cubicle would have sufficed.

“It’s great to go from one (scholarship QB) and have three now,” coach Willie Taggart said Tuesday.

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The depth chart was further fortified Monday, when FSU announced Louisville transfer Jordan Travis has been granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA, making him eligible to play in 2019.

He joins 6-foot-4 Wisconsin graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook and 2017 starter James Blackman as viable options this fall. Also in the room is Western Michigan transfer Wyatt Rector, a walk-on (for now) who has applied for a waiver as well.

When spring practice commenced, Taggart, who signed no prep quarterback the last two winters, had only one scholarship QB (Blackman) assured of being eligible this fall. Deondre Francois, the starter in 2016 and 2018, was dismissed in February.

Florida State Seminoles quarterback Alex Hornibrook (12) throws during practice at the IMG Academy. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)

“Great depth," Blackman said before Tuesday morning’s practice at IMG Academy, where the ’Noles are working out through Thursday. "Great competition to give us a chance to compete every day. Just great depth.”

All of which will be rendered moot if the ’Noles can’t address their offensive line deficiencies. Nonetheless, Taggart, who has stressed developing quality depth at every position since his arrival in Tallahassee, now appears to possess it at his most prominent spot.

In the short term, Blackman, who has started 13 games over the past two seasons, probably is the best fit for new coordinator Kendal Briles’ system, which features a brisk tempo and nary a huddle.

“You always have room to grow," Blackman said, "but I feel like I have a good understanding of what (Briles) wants to do, the plays he’s calling and how he wants them to be executed.”

By contrast, Hornibrook, 26-6 as a starter with the Badgers, spent the past three seasons in far a more conventional system. Travis appeared in only three games at Louisville in 2018, but totaled more than 3,000 yards as a senior at Palm Beach Benjamin in 2017.

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“Just the whole run-pass option plays, I haven’t done that type of thing before,” Hornibrook said. “So just getting used to that and not having your eyes on the running back as you’re faking, that’s something that’s different for me and it’s gotten better with more reps.”

Hornibrook isn’t the only one getting accustomed to options.

For the first time in months, Taggart and Briles have some too.

Quarterback depth ― if not a derby ― exists in Tallahassee.

“It’s good,” Taggart said.

Staff writer Ryan Kolakowski contributed to this report.


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