It is officially time for Florida State to put its 2013 championship season behind it and begin pursuit of a second consecutive national title as spring practice is just two weeks away.
While many of the Seminoles’ top players will return to Doak Campbell Stadium this fall, graduation, early departures and transfers have left coach Jimbo Fisher searching for answers at a handful of positions. There is talent and depth across the board, but the FSU staff is hoping key replacements emerge this spring before being thrust into pivotal roles in the fall.
This week we will look at five key position battles for the Seminoles this spring, beginning with the No. 2 quarterback.
Position: Backup quarterback
Replacing: Jacob Coker (transferred to Alabama)
The old joke is that the backup quarterback is always the most popular player on the team, but nobody will be laughing in Tallahassee if Jameis Winston cedes to the second-string quarterback if the game is not well in hand. FSU was lucky last season that Winston avoided any significant injury, but the Noles need to be prepared if he misses time in 2014.
Maguire, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound redshirt sophomore, saw action in eight games last season but was never on the field for a meaningful snap. He has the high school credentials -- he was the No. 13-ranked quarterback in the 2012 class -- but has only 21 career passing attempts in the garnet and gold. Still, few people coach quarterbacks better than Fisher, so Maguire certainly could become a viable backup with increased snaps this spring. He has completed 13 of those 21 throws with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his college career.
Franklin is a redshirt freshman who was a three-star dual-threat quarterback in the 2013 class. It would be somewhat of a surprise to see the 6-foot, 171-pound Franklin take over the reins as the backup quarterback given Fisher’s penchant for the traditional pocket passer. There were a lot of positive reviews of Franklin out of Florida State’s practices in December as he played the role of shifty Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall in championship game preparations. But 2013 was a redshirt season for Franklin, who spent most of his first semester focusing on the classroom and weight room while serving on the scout team.
The Noles also have a host of walk-on quarterbacks, but the hope is that either Maguire or Franklin can solidify the position behind Winston. If not, incoming freshman J.J. Cosentino will be on campus in time for fall practice. Cosentino hails from Pittsburgh Central Catholic, which has produced several big-time college quarterbacks over the last few decades -- Hall of Famer Dan Marino and Pro Bowler Marc Bulger among them.
Certainly Fisher’s hope is once again to keep his No. 2 quarterback off the field outside of lopsided victories, which could give him an opportunity to have a five-way competition for the starting spot in 2015 should Winston declare for the NFL draft following this season. Maguire, Franklin and Cosentino should still be on scholarship then and would be joined by 2015 ESPN Junior 300 quarterback commit De'Andre Johnson out of Jacksonvile (Fla.) First Coast and potentially one more 2015 signee.