Florida State Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois scrambles against Alabama in the second half of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game on September 2, 2017 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Photo by Mark Wallheiser/UPI | License Photo
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- New Florida State Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart ended months of speculation Monday when he named redshirt junior Deondre Francois as the team's starting quarterback, one week ahead of the No. 19 Seminoles' 2018 season opener against No. 20 Virginia Tech on Labor Day night.
Francois, who was the starter as a freshman but missed most of last year after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Florida State's 2017 opener against Alabama, went 10-3 in his first season under center in 2016, capped by a 33-32 Orange Bowl win against Michigan.
Francois earned the nod over sophomore James Blackman, who stepped in when Francois went down last year and went 7-5 as the starter.
Francois and Blackman, along with redshirt freshman Bailey Hockman, competed for the job in fall camp, but Taggart said he wanted to name Francois the starter with a week left of practice ahead of the season opener against the Hokies next Monday.
"Deondre Francois will be our quarterback," said Taggart, speaking to reporters before Monday morning's practice.
"We had a very, very healthy competition going on, and I thought all of our guys got better. But we decided Deondre was best for us, and we're going to go that way. When you watch the body of work and the short amount of time he's been out there [since the injury], he's running the offense a lot more efficient and [making] a lot fewer mistakes. And I think that's important when playing that position."
Francois, who tore the patellar tendon in his left knee against Alabama, was named the 2016 ACC Rookie of the Year after throwing for 3,350 yards, with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his first season as the starter.