When Jimbo Fisher’s name appears in conversations, the term “QB whisperer” is often tossed around. For good reason, too.
Jimbo Fisher is one of the nation’s best in developing quarterbacks for the NFL and has transformed what some would consider subpar talent into first round draft picks on numerous occasions.
We compared five of Fisher’s best QB’s that started at least one game at Florida State during his career at Florida State, and here’s how they add up:
#5: Sean Maguire
Maguire, whose big moment came against Clemson during the Jameis Winston fiasco of 2014, began his career backing up the Heisman winner. A three-star recruit by 247Sports, Maguire sat out the 2012 season as a redshirt. He appeared in nine contests in 2013, assuming backup QB role after then-backup Jake Coker suffered a season ending injury.
The defining moment of his career came in 2014, when Winston was suspended just hours before the ‘Noles faced 17th ranked Clemson. Maguire became one of only two players to throw for 300+ yards against the Tigers in 2014, and his 74-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene tied the game with just over six minutes remaining.
Maguire played in eight games the following year, assuming the starting role from Everette Golson after the graduate transfer’s rough start. He led the Seminoles to a 4-2 record in games he started and nearly led a comeback in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, playing through a broken ankle. Maguire ultimately sat out most of 2016 due redshirt freshman Deondre Francois’ emergence.
#4: EJ Manuel
Google the phrase “spin sack” and EJ will be close by.
Okay, that might be a bit harsh. Manuel was forced into the starting position when junior Christian Ponder suffered a season-ending ligament injury against Clemson, and led several key comebacks during Bobby Bowden’s final year as head coach.
Manuel led a last minute comeback against Maryland, giving the Seminoles bowl eligibility by overcoming three big interceptions. He then led FSU to a Gator Bowl victory over West Virginia, ultimately closing the book on Bowden’s storied career.
Unfortunately, Manuel will always carry a negative reputation in Tallahassee.
His career will forever be characterized by missed opportunities, spin sacks, and an extreme reliance on check downs. It’s a shame, really, because he was by no means a bad QB. He capped off his college career by leading Florida State to a blowout victory over Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl, FSU’s first BCS bowl victory in years.
#3 Deondre Francois
The redshirt freshman sensation began his collegiate career by torching the Ole Miss Rebels and ended his first season by leading the ‘Noles to a last second victory against the Michigan Wolverines. As I wrote after the Ole Miss game;
Deondre Francois‘ redshirt freshman season lasted a grand total of 28 minutes. In the 32 that followed, he would go from an unknown backup to FSU’s newest leader.
Francois silenced any doubters in the second half of the season opener, as he threw for 419 yards and two touchdowns to lead FSU on its largest comeback in school history.
Throughout the season, he demonstrated incredible toughness. His willingness to stand in the pocket and absorb bone-crushing hit after bone-crushing hit spoke volumes to his leadership and calmness in the pocket.
He also has plenty of room for improvement heading into 2017. Francois continues to show hesitation when looking downfield, failed to pick up numerous blitz calls during the Seminoles’ spring game, and still shows flashes of inaccuracy downfield. However, if Francois improves enough, he has the potential to be a truly great quarterback.
#2: Christian Ponder
Ponder started all 13 games in 2008 and led FSU to its first nine win season since 2004 in his first full year in charge of the Seminole offense. His promising career was ultimately derailed by a plethora of injuries, but he showed flashes of brilliance on numerous occasions throughout his career.
Ponder’s 2009 season was cut short due to injury, but he still led the ACC with 321.8 yards per game. He finished his FSU career as one of the school’s most successful players both on and off the field, as he earned his MBA degree prior to beginning his final season.
In his final game at Doak Campbell Stadium, he led the Seminoles to their first win over Florida in six years, becoming the first FSU QB since Chris Weinke in 1999 to defeat both UF and Miami in the same year.
#1: Jameis Winston
Black Football Jesus.
Finishing off the list is Florida State’s greatest quarterback, Jameis Winston.
Winston announced himself to the college football world by torching the Pittsburgh defense in his first collegiate game, setting the standard for things to come while finishing with just two incompletions.
He led the Seminoles to their largest margin of victory in Clemson’s Death Valley, threw for more first half touchdowns than 105 QB’s combined in 2013, and engineered the game-winning drive in the BCS National Championship, finding Kelvin Benjamin with mere seconds remaining to give Florida State its first national championship in over a decade.
Winston left FSU as one of the greatest quarterbacks in FSU, ACC, and college football history. He finished with a 26-1 record, a mark unmatched by any other QB in history. He was a major reason the Seminoles went undefeated in the 2014 regular season, as he engineered four comeback victories, and he is Florida State’s only #1 Draft pick in school history.