By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With spring practice on the horizon at Florida State, Seminoles.com is taking a position-by-position look at where the FSU football team stands as it moves toward the 2015 season.
First up are the quarterbacks.
Who’s in: Sean Maguire (6-3, 220; RS JR), John Franklin III (6-0, 180; RS SO), J.J. Cosentino (6-4, 234; RS FR), De’Andre Johnson (6-2, 186; FR), Troy Cook (6-2, 198; RS SO)
Who's out: Jameis Winston (3,907 passing yards, 25 TDs, 18 INTs in 2014)
See ya this summer: Deondre Francois (6-2, 191; FR)
The buzz: Florida State enters spring camp with what promises to be its most intriguing quarterback battle since, well, two years ago, when Jameis Winston used an electrifying performance in the Garnet and Gold Game to vault in front of a four-man race.
Two years later, only one of that quartet remains in Tallahassee. That would be fourth-year junior Sean Maguire. The Sparta, N.J., native overcame long odds to outlast veterans Clint Trickett (transferred to West Virginia), Jacob Coker (transferred to Alabama) and Winston, who is now preparing for the NFL draft after two seasons as perhaps the best quarterback in college football.
As FSU’s only QB with any in-game experience, Maguire should be considered the frontrunner to emerge as the team's starter, and head coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed as much recently.
Maguire stepped into the spotlight last year in the Seminoles' overtime win against Clemson, and shook off two interceptions to lead FSU to a win over its top ACC rival.
“He's been in live action, been in big games, and knows the offense and the system,” Fisher said.
But just because Maguire has the inside track doesn't mean his coronation will be automatic. Fisher expects all of his quarterbacks to compete and believes that each has a chance to win the job.
Redshirt freshman J.J. Cosentino has quietly made waves in his short time at FSU and showed flashes of the strong arm that made him a four-star prospect coming out of Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School.
And third-year sophomore John Franklin III has developed a reputation for his speed and athleticism, so much so that he served as the scout-team look for speedy quarterbacks Justin Thomas and Marcus Mariota last season.
FSU is also welcoming in two freshman signal-callers, one of which is already on campus. De'Andre Johnson arrives with a top-notch pedigree, having earned Florida Mr. Football honors after four years as a starter at First Coast High in Jacksonville.
"I see it more from Sean because he's older and has been accepted," Fisher said, "but (Cosentino and Franklin) have both been really good in drills. I thought De’Andre Johnson (jumped out too).”
Meanwhile, Deondre Francois, who learned under former FSU great Chris Weinke at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, is considered one of the nation's top QB prospects as well.
While Johnson and Francois both face a long climb up the depth chart, Fisher recently reminded that two of his high-profile protégés -- Winston and LSU's Jamarcus Russell -- each challenged for starting jobs as freshmen. He expects no less from these two newcomers.
So FSU has no shortage of candidates for the job, and this spring should prove crucial for each. But don’t expect Fisher to name a starter if one hasn’t emerged in time for the Garnet and Gold Game on April 11.
As always, FSU’s coach is happy to take his time and evaluate his charges deep into August, if necessary.
“I don’t have a plan,” Fisher said. “I have a plan when I see it. Let them play and if you see it, you see it. If you don’t, we’ll work and continue to move.”
Number of note: 304. Making his first and only start, Maguire threw for 304 yards against a Clemson pass defense that finished the year ranked second in the country. That's nearly 40 yards above the Tigers' season average for passing yards allowed.