FSU Football: Evaluating quarterback situation after transfer news

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 25: James Blackman #1 of the Florida State Seminoles looks to pass during the game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 25: James Blackman #1 of the Florida State Seminoles looks to pass during the game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) /

FSU football entered 2019 with only one scholarship quarterback. Recent changes have added depth. Let’s take a look at the current quarterback situation.

FSU football entered spring practice in 2018 with three scholarship quarterbacks vying for the starting position. Fast forward to 2019 and FSU knows its starter but is still trying to get everything else figured out.

With Deondre Francois leaving the program, head coach Willie Taggart is left with only one scholarship quarterback on his roster, but he is working very hard to upgrade that deficiency. Of course, he would like to have signed a quarterback in the 2019 class but that didn’t happen.

The good news is that there have been some significant changes to the Seminoles’ quarterback depth over the past few weeks. Now is a good time to get a status update to see how things currently stand as spring practices are under way. Let’s start with the one thing that we do know.

Florida State Seminoles Football
Florida State Seminoles Football /

Florida State Seminoles Football

James Blackman

Blackman enters 2019 as a starting quarterback after he started 12 games in the 2017 season when Francois was injured and played pretty well considering that the line was a mess (common theme lately). Kendal Briles will be the third offensive coordinator he has played for, so Taggart hopes he will be quick in picking up another new system.

Blackman is loved by his teammates, so they are excited to see what he can do as the starter. Hopefully, new offensive line coach Randy Clements can improve the line enough to give him time to throw.

Walk-on Option

Nolan McDonald is currently taking reps as the second-string quarterback. An extremely athletic walk-on, McDonald has no game experience so if Blackman gets injured, it could be a long year. McDonald, a three-star recruit from Long Beach Poly High in California, passed for over 1,000 yards and ran for over 300 as a senior in 2016.

Various reports state that he was shaky at the first spring practice but he has gotten much better in the ensuing practices – so hopefully he can continue to improve enough to run the offense if called upon. He will get a chance to showcase his skills in the Garnet and Gold Spring Game.


Jordan Travis announced at the end of December that he would transfer from Louisville to Florida State. A three-star quarterback, Travis passed for 2,190 yards, 24 TDs and 7 INTs his senior year. He has a big arm, but the FSU football coaches love his running ability, as he ran for 905 yards on just 77 carries (11.8 average) with 16 TDs his last year in high school.

Travis only played in three games at Louisville so that can be considered a redshirt year, giving him four years of eligibility at FSU. Last week, Taggart said Florida State is still waiting to hear from the NCAA about Travis’ hardship waiver. If granted, he would be able to play this year.

Wyatt Rector announced on February 24 that he was transferring from Western Michigan to FSU. Rector was a three-star dual-threat quarterback from Leesburg, FL who spent one year with the Broncos. During his senior year in high school, the 6’ 4” 220 lbs. Rector passed for over 3,300 yards and ran for over 900 yards.

That is the type of production the Seminole offense could definitely use. He is expected to enroll in May as a preferred walk-on. He could earn a scholarship if he receives a hardship waiver from the NCAA.

Sunday morning, Alex Hornibrook – a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – announced on Twitter that he will transfer to FSU football. This is huge news for Taggart and the Seminoles as Hornibrook becomes a very experienced backup to Blackman, who should be ready to play if needed.

Hornibrook started 32 games at Wisconsin, playing to a 26-6 record. He threw for 5,438 yards, completing 60.5% of his passes. He had 47 TDs and 33 INTs. The only question is his running ability, which is a valuable asset in Taggart’s offense. He ran for -243 yards at Wisconsin (of course that includes sacks.)

Heading into the fall, FSU football’s quarterback situation looks a lot better than it did when 2019 started. The depth chart should look like this: Blackman, Hornibrook, McDonald, Travis (up one spot he gets his hardship waiver) and Rector.

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Having five quarterbacks will make practices run much smoother and Travis, McDonald and Rector will get a year to learn the system. However, that might not matter as Elite 11 quarterback Jeff Sims has committed to join the Seminoles’ 2020 recruiting class.