James Blackman Named FSU Starting QB Ahead of Wisconsin Transfer Alex Hornibrook

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2019

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 25: James Blackman #1 of the Florida State Seminoles in action 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)
Rob Foldy/Getty Images

James Blackman is penciled in as Florida State's starting quarterback over transfer Alex Hornibrook with the 2019 season approaching. 

Per Wayne McGahee III of the Tallahassee Democrat, FSU head coach Willie Taggart said Wednesday at the ACC Kickoff that Blackman is the "starting quarterback."

Even so, Taggart added that Hornibrook will have an opportunity to compete for the starting job before the season commences: "[Blackman] 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."

Blackman has made 13 starts for the Seminoles over the past two seasons, while Hornibrook made 32 starts at Wisconsin before transferring.

After appearing in three games last season and making one start, Blackman is entering his redshirt sophomore campaign. He completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 510 yards, five touchdowns and one interception, including 421 yards and four scores in a start against NC State.

Blackman primarily served as the backup to Deondre Francois last season, but he made 12 starts as a freshman in 2017 when Francois missed nearly the whole season due to injury.

In 2017, Blackman completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 2,230 yards, 19 touchdowns and 11 picks.

Hornibrook is a redshirt senior with starting experience dating back to 2016. After a big year for the Badgers in 2017 that saw him complete 62.3 percent of his passes for 2,644 yards, 25 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, he struggled last season.

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In nine games, Hornibrook completed 59.5 percent of his attempts for 1,532 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and he was supplanted by Jack Coan as the starter.

While Hornibrook has an overall experience edge, Taggart believes Blackman has come a long way since last season:

"He's ahead of what he was last year. You know, I think James, He's grown up. He's always been a great leader. But I think he's taken another step when it comes to leadership. He's working his tail off. I've seen him around office more than ever. And they're learning and going over football. ... I think last year was beneficial for him to be on the sideline and see it from a different angle."

Whoever begins 2019 as the starting quarterback will look to turn around a Seminoles team that has fallen on hard times. After winning 10 or more games in five straight seasons from 2012-2016, FSU went 7-6 in 2017 and just 5-7 last season.

In going 5-7, Florida State saw its 36-year bowl streak come to an end.

If the Seminoles are going to start a new streak in 2019, one of Blackman or Hornibrook has to step up and lead an offense that struggled mightily last season.

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