Spring practices will be beginning all over for teams to prepare for next season. The biggest question at Florida State will be who replaces Jameis Winston under center. We handicap the race with NCAAF odds.
Winston is NFL's Problem Now
I actually would have like to have seen what Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher would have done if Winston had decided to return next season for his redshirt junior year. There's no doubting the talent of the 2013 Heisman winner, but his off-the-field problems left a black eye on Florida State more than once. It seemed the school catered to its star at every turn and that Fisher really was tiring of Winston's act.
Winston led the Seminoles to the national championship in his Heisman season and was offensive MVP of the title game come-from-behind win over Auburn. He won just about every award possible in addition to the Heisman, including becoming the first freshman to win ACC Player of the Year honors while breaking the FSU and national freshman record for touchdown passes (40) and the national freshman record for passing yards (4,057).
The 2014 season wasn't quite as good. Winston threw for 3,9077 yards and 25 touchdowns but also 18 interceptions. His overall rating was nearly 40 points lower than his freshman season. Winston did lead the Seminoles to several comeback wins and got FSU in the College Football Playoff. The Noles' luck and 29-game winning streak ran out in the Rose Bowl in a 59-20 rout to Oregon. Winston threw for 348 yards and a TD but turned it over twice in his only loss as a college starter.
Who's On Deck?
The clear leader in the clubhouse to replace Winston as the starter is Sean Maguire, and I'd give him even-money NCAA football odds to be the guy Week 1 against cupcake opponent Texas State (come on FSU, Texas State!?). When Winston was suspended for the 2014 ACC opener against Clemson, Maguire got the call and played well in the 23-17 overtime win. Maguire was 21 of 39 for 304 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions against a Clemson defense that was one of the nation's best. Winston was suspended after making offensive and vulgar comments earlier that week in public on campus. Maguire, who will be a junior, got into just one more regular-season game after that, completing 1-for-2 for 7 yards in garbage time against Wake Forest. Maguire obviously has the benefit of three years in the system (he's a redshirt junior) and has a very strong arm, although isn't very mobile.
J.J. Consentino was a member of FSU's 2014 recruiting class but redshirted last season. He has ideal size at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds and a big arm. He also played in a run-heavy offense at his Pittsburgh high school and thus is very raw as a passer. Give Consentino +1000 odds to be the Week 1 starter.
John Franklin III will be a redshirt sophomore and is small in stature at 6-foot, 180 pounds, but he's a burner. He has been FSU's scout-team QB the past two seasons, helping to mimic guys like Auburn's Nick Marshall and Oregon's Marcus Mariota. However, Franklin's future might be at receiver, where he got many reps in practice last season as well. List Franklin at +3500 for Week 1.
National Signing Day is Feb. 4 and currently FSU has three quarterbacks committed. De'Andre Johnson is already enrolled. He was a four-year starter at Jacksonville First Coast High and threw for 47 touchdowns as a senior. That he's an early enrollee is an advantage over the other two guys currently committed (if they stay so): Deondre Francois and Kai Locksley. Francois (6-1, 195), from Bradenton, Fla., is ranked as a four-star QB by 247 Sports and is considered the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the 2015 recruiting class. He also considered Clemson, Auburn and Florida. Locksley might not end up at Tallahassee as he's considering his options after a good visit to Texas. Some believe Locksley will end up at receiver wherever he goes. I'll list Francois as the +500 second-favorite college football pick for the job, with Johnson at +4000 and I don't believe Locksley is an option.
NCAAF Free Pick: FSU is +2500 at Bovada to win the national title next season, but this looks like a slight rebuilding year. I don't even like the Seminoles to win the ACC -- I go with Clemson. I do believe Maguire starts the opener, but that Francois will take over eventually.