Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

First-time quarterbacks have played well for Florida State

in Sports/Top Headlines by

For Deondre Francois, life is a snap.

All he has to do is play football.

Francois, suddenly the starter at Florida State University as a redshirt freshman after Sean Maguire suffered a broken foot, simply has to start against a Top 20 opponent with a returning quarterback (Chad Kelly) while the nation looks on. Heck, it’s been done before.

At FSU, quarterbacking is all about good starts. And good jobs in relief.

You want to talk about relief? How about Marcus Outzen, leading the Seminoles past No. 4 Florida in 1998? How about Danny Kanell, stepping in for injured Charlie Ward back in 1993 and throwing 341 yards and five touchdowns against Maryland? How about Peter Tom Willis, hitting 17 of 20 against South Carolina in 1998.

Even lately, the Seminoles have had success. McGuire threw for 305 yards and led FSU past Clemson when he was a sophomore in 2014. E.J. Manuel was a redshirt freshman when he beat Wake Forest and hit 15 of 20 passes for 221.

Ah, but what if Francois doesn’t consider himself a backup? Well, the directions to winning have been laid down by other quarterbacks.

Back in 2013, Jameis Winston was nearly flawless in a big win over Pitt, hitting 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns.

In 1993, Charlie Ward broke in with a 17 of 33 day against Duke, in which he also threw four touchdowns.

In 1998, Chris Weinke hit 21 of 36 in his debut.

That puts the pressure squarely on Francois. Ole Miss is certain to try to take away running back Dalvin Cook and make Francois beat them.

“I don’t think the lights will be too bright,” Francois told ESPN. “I believe in my preparation, and everything Coach Fisher has taught me is to stay humble and continue to trust the process. If I prepare well and I continue to do everything I need to do and everything he tells me to do, I feel like I’ll be fine.”

We’ll see if he can.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

Latest from Sports

Go to Top