The quarterback position is the most scrutinized position in football, but the answer as to who assumes it for Florida State might not be known until the late parts of fall camp.
FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher has been lauded for his ability to develop quarterbacks. Since becoming the school’s head man in Tallahassee in 2010, Fisher has had three different signal-callers go on to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. That list includes 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and 2015 No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston.
For the second straight offseason however, who occupies that position is largely unknown. Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson got the nod early last season, but Sean Maguire had overtaken him by the end of the year. Will Maguire ultimately be Fisher’s guy come Labor Day this year or will Fisher look to a younger face? Here’s the case for and against each of the Seminoles vying to start under center:
Sean Maguire (Redshirt senior)
The case for: Maguire has the experience edge over each of his fellow competitors and he has won big games for the Seminoles. For his career, Maguire has completed nearly 58 percent of his passes and is averaging a respectable 7.6 yards per attempt.
As a redshirt sophomore in 2014, Maguire rallied FSU past Clemson in a nationally televised contest by passing for more than 300 yards and a touchdown in place of the suspended Winston. Maguire was the starter for the Seminoles last season in a 27-2 rivalry victory at Florida. Maguire has the arm strength and the respect of his teammates, but whether or not that’s enough to get the starting nod remains to be seen.
The case against: Despite the big arm and big edge experience, Maguire is a virtual statue in the pocket. Though his career interception rate isn’t extraordinarily high, Maguire has a tendency to force passes into tight coverage. Although he was playing on a bad ankle, Maguire left a bad taste in Seminole fans’ mouths with four interceptions in the 38-24 Peach Bowl loss to Houston.
In the three biggest games Maguire started last season (Clemson, Florida, Houston), the now redshirt senior was a combined 52-for-101 (51 percent completion rate) with three touchdown passes and five interceptions.
Deondre Francois (Redshirt freshman)
The case for: Francois is probably the best athlete at the quarterback position and he had the chance to show off his wheels during the spring game, rushing for 37 yards on six carries.
While Francois would provide some mobility, his biggest strength is still his right arm. Francois is incredibly poised for a redshirt freshman and throws with good accuracy and touch. In April’s spring game, François finished 20-for-33 passing for 246 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The case against: Though most were left impressed with Francois’ spring game performance, he did throw two interceptions that were clearly avoidable, including one in the end zone. Francois also had a fumble overturned against an FSU defense that wasn’t completely made up of scholarship players.
Francois also lacks experience is the shortest (6-1) of Florida State’s four scholarship quarterbacks. The Seminoles open the 2016 season against four bowl teams from a season ago in the first five games with three of them coming away from Tallahassee. Against a tough slate, FSU may want to go to the more experienced signal-caller. It’s true that Jameis Winston led the Seminoles to a national championship as a redshirt freshman, but players of the Heisman winner’s caliber don’t come around every day.
Malik Henry (Freshman)
The case for: An early enrollee this spring, Henry had the best spring game passing performance of any Florida State quarterback. Henry completed 15 of his 22 attempts for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Henry also has a strong arm and throws a beautiful ball. Henry seems to be a heady kid as well, showing no ill effects of picking up what’s a fairly complex offense in a fairly timely manner.
The case against: Henry might be too raw when it comes to playing quarterback for head coach Jimbo Fisher. In fact, the Seminoles haven’t started a true freshman under center since 1985 and it’s not like that decision has come back to hurt them. At only 185 pounds, Henry also is a bit on the lean side and might not hold up over the long haul of the season.
J.J. Consentino (Redshirt sophomore)
The case for: Consentino might be the biggest long shot for Florida State, but at 6-foot-4 and nearly 240 pounds, he has size and arm strength similar to Jameis Winston. Consentino is 5-for-10 passing for 27 yards in his career.
The case against: With Everett Golson not traveling with the team and Sean Maguire temporarily sidelined with a foot injury, Consentino had the look of a deer in the headlights during Florida State’s Peach Bowl loss to Houston – his first real meaningful action. Consentino didn’t seem to have much pocket awareness and looked hesitant to make throws. The fact that this is Consentino’s third year in the system and that he has fallen behind younger players at the position also is troubling.