March 6, 2014
There's no better way to kick off daily position-by-position spring-practice previews than by looking at the primary spot on the roster that guided Florida State to a national championship: quarterback.
After putting together one of the greatest seasons by a signal caller in college football history in 2013, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston returns in a much different position than one year ago at this time.
Twelve months ago, Winston started spring practices at No. 3 on the depth chart behind older players Jacob Coker and Clint Trickett. It was in April of last year at the annual spring game that FSU fans got their first real taste of Winston's ability under center. On his first play from scrimmage, Winston tossed a long touchdown pass.
That scoring throw was just one of several positive on-field moments for the future superstar and he entered the off-season in a two-way starter's battle with Coker after Trickett elected to transfer to West Virginia.
This year, his role is much different. Instead of being a first-year player fighting to earn playing time, Winston is the unquestioned leader of a very talented team on the hunt for a repeat. The only thing that hasn't changed in the last year is that Winston will still split his time on the gridiron and the diamond.
Already 11 games into the 2014 `Noles baseball season as a closer, outfielder and designated hitter, Winston will juggle both sports for the next two months just as he successfully did last year.
After losing the starting job to Winston during fall camp in August and serving as the No. 2 quarterback on the roster, Coker decided earlier this year to transfer to Alabama. When he gets to Tuscaloosa this summer after graduating from FSU, the strong-armed righty will be given the chance to compete for playing time right away.
Without Coker, FSU enters spring practices with three underclassmen quarterbacks on its roster.
Like Winston, Sean Maguire is a rising redshirt sophomore that played sparingly as the No. 3 quarterback in 2013 before rising to No. 2 when Coker went down with a season-ending injury in mop-up duty against Wake Forest.
Maguire will have to hold off John Franklin III for the backup spot this spring. Franklin III spent his true-freshman year running the scout-team offense and he boasts impressive speed (he's also on FSU's track team) that brings a different dynamic to the roster.
Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said Thursday at the conclusion of 4th Quarter Drills he's looking forward to seeing the backup-quarterback competition.
FSU did add any players at quarterback for spring but incoming true freshman J.J. Cosentino will join the squad this summer.
Stay tuned Friday for a full preview on Florida State's defensive backs -- a group that is loaded with talented despite the losses of NFL-bound players Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks.