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Florida State has a knack for recruiting quality players. Deondre Francois came into the program after Jameis Winston made, what I consider to be, his great escape. The investigations were iffy, the departments in charge were in disarray, and Winston probably took his lawyer’s advice and declared for the NFL draft (of course, he probably would have anyways).
FSU didn’t have the best season in 2015. Sean Maguire didn’t have what it took to keep them in playoff contention, and they suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Houston Cougars in the Peach Bowl. Fast forward to 2016, and Francois has helped them rebound to a top 10 program once again.
Francois had an impressive season statistically, but he had less success than several ACC Quarterbacks. He passed for 3,350 yards with a 58.8% completion percentage and threw for 20 touchdowns. In the game that mattered most, when FSU pulled out a win against Michigan 33-32, he didn’t perform well completing only 9/27 passes for 22 yards. Luckily for FSU, Dalvin Cook was there to save the game.
Francois will have an immediate test in 2017, against Alabama in the season opener, to prove that he is a Heisman contender. Vegas has already flagged him as a possible 2017 Heisman candidate among 18 other players. During Winston’s Heisman trophy campaign as a freshman, he threw for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns while completing 66.9% of his passes. The difference is pretty staggering. Even in 2014 when Jameis was 6th in the running for the trophy, he did better than Francois’s redshirt freshman year.
There are several things that need to happen for him to be considered a serious contender for the Heisman. First, FSU needs to step up the caliber of their offensive line. After losing Cook, they might need to pivot and become a pass-heavy team—the only way they can possibly do this is to protect Francois more than they did last year.
Next, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, and Baker Mayfield need to have average seasons. I could see Mayfield doing this, but the other two might prove to be a problem. FSU has the opportunity to beat Louisville, and improve Francois’ Heisman chances, but may need USC to lose to several games throughout the year.
Jimbo Fisher never recruits uncoachable players. He’s fostered many amazing players in the last couple years, and not only do I see Francois staying through his junior year, but he will improve each season as well.
Francois has a lot of talent that he hasn’t cultivated yet. He has as much talent as anyone in the nation. If he can stay focused and play like everyone knows he can, then he will make an impressive case for the Heisman next season.
It wouldn’t hurt if FSU makes it to the College Football Playoffs next year, either.
2016 Deondre Francois Highlights
Nicholai Babis is a sophomore International Studies major at Vassar College. He specializes in College Football. He is a lifelong Seminoles fan, as well as a Rays fan and a Tampa Bay Bucs fan. He grew up in Tampa, Florida. He is a co-owner of the JR report and works for Athletics at Vassar College. He is the college football contributor at the JR Report. Follow Nicholai on twitter @nibabis . Hit him up if you want to discuss CFB, NFL, golf, tennis, and more.