FSU’s Taggart: Blackman enters camp as No. 1 QB

Field Level Media

July 17, 2019 at 8:01 pm.

Florida State sophomore James Blackman will enter fall camp as the starting quarterback, although coach Willie Taggart said he is expecting graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook to compete.

Blackman preserved a redshirt season in 2018, when he played in four games (with one start) while playing behind Deondre Francois, who was dismissed from the team this February. Blackman started 12 games in 2017 after Francois was injured in the opener, completing 173 of 297 passes for 2,230 yards, with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

“He’s the starting quarterback,” Taggart said of Blackman at ACC media days in Charlotte, N.C., according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“He started in the spring and the understanding is that he’s going to go in there with the ones. But those guys are going to compete. They’re going to get their reps and the best man is going to win the job.”

Hornibrook graduated in May from Wisconsin with one season of eligibility remaining.

He was the primary starter for the Badgers for the past three seasons, completing 60.5 percent of his passes for 5,438 yards with 47 touchdowns and 33 interceptions during his career. He was the MVP of the 2017 Orange Bowl win over Miami, but he was expecting to face competition at Wisconsin this season from junior Jack Coan and standout freshman Graham Mertz.

“Alex, I think one thing he brings to our football team is experience, not just experience playing football, but experience playing in big bowl games, too, games that he played in and won,” Taggart said Wednesday.

“I mean, you can’t overlook that from an experience standpoint at that position. One thing I’ve been really impressed with Alex is he’s coming to our football program and it seems like he’s been there for years, just how he’s been relating to his teammates. It’s almost every day I see him with someone different, getting to know those guys.

“Just to hear his teammates talk about him says a lot about the work he’s put in building those relationships, understanding that was something he needed to do coming here with one year left. Been really impressed with the young man.”

The FSU quarterbacks will be working with new position coach and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, who helped direct wide-open offenses at Baylor, Florida Atlantic and Houston. The Seminoles are trying to bounce back from a 5-7 season as they failed to reach a bowl game for the first time since 1981.