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Friday, Jul 20, 2018
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FSU Seminoles

Willie Taggart: 3-player QB derby would be ‘pretty cool’ for FSU

Less than 48 hours before FSU begins spring practice, new coach Willie Taggart said he wouldn't mind seeing the Seminoles' anticipated quarterback duel blossom into a derby.

Which is to say, he's eager to see how much redshirt freshman Bailey Hockman can push presumed front-runners Deondre Francois and James Blackman.

"Everyone just talks about Francois and Blackman, I'm interested and ready to see Bailey go out and execute, too," Taggart said Monday from his office. "So it's gonna be pretty cool."

Blackman, who assumed the starting job when Francois suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2017 opener against Alabama, almost certainly will take the first snap when FSU spring drills commence Wednesday.

The 'Noles' first two practices, on Wednesday and Friday, are open to the public, the school announced late Monday afternoon. Both are expected to begin around 9 a.m.

Just how much fans see of Francois is uncertain. The 2016 ACC Rookie of the Year still is rehabbing his knee, but could participate in some 7-on-7 work this spring, Taggart said.

Though thrust into a situation for which he was unprepared physically (6-foot-5, 175 pounds) and perhaps mentally, Blackman completed 58.2 percent of his passes (virtually the same percentage as Francois in 2016) last season, when he was sacked 29 times.

He finished 7-5 as a starter, and ultimately was named offensive MVP (233 passing yards, four touchdowns) of the Independence Bowl.

"He's picked up about 10-12 pounds. You can't tell," Taggart quipped.

"You start to see a little muscle and a little rip. He's got some definition in his body now. … But he's working his tail off, and the thing I've been impressed with more than anything is just how the team has responded to him."

And Hockman? He redshirted last season after enrolling in January 2017, but was a composite four-star prospect (per 247Sports) out of Powder Springs, Ga., as a pro-style quarterback.

"Winter conditioning, he's just been busting his butt," Taggart said.

Cue the derby.

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