Closer look: Quarterbacks

In the coming weeks, the Osceola staff will take a look at each Florida State position group. First up are the quarterbacks.

2021 stats: Jordan Travis (1,530 passing yards, 62.9 completion percentage, 15 touchdowns, six interceptions), McKenzie Milton (775 passing yards, 58.3 completion percentage, three touchdowns, six interceptions), Chubba Purdy (5 of 5 for 98 yards, two touchdowns), Tate Rodemaker (1 of 2 for seven yards).

2022 projected quarterbacks: Travis, Rodemaker and AJ Duffy.

Departures: Chubba Purdy (transfer portal) and McKenzie Milton (eligibility is up, will play in Hula Bowl in January).

State of the QB room: Improving. Mike Norvell and Kenny Dillingham were consistent in pushing the storyline that Travis didn’t have much playing time, and in fairness it’s true as he now has a season’s worth of passes when factoring in his four college seasons. He has thrown 350 passes across four seasons, with 336 of those coming at FSU. Travis has gained experience, showing improved accuracy compared to 2020 (62.9 percent vs. 55 percent). He also threw the same number of interceptions this fall compared to 2020 (when he threw 63 fewer passes), and Travis went five full games without an interception. Half of his picks came in the opener against Notre Dame. Rodemaker is still developing as he enters year 3 at FSU, while Duffy will arrive in January.

The new guy: Duffy will enroll early, which is an advantage academically and in learning the offense. It’s not lip service that he has a chance right away to compete for the starting job because he will get reps and Norvell often gives reps to backups with the first-team offense. He is a coach’s son and has adapted well to learning new offenses. But it’s also necessary to keep in mind he’s in the early learning stages. No true freshman should have to start at quarterback, even though it’s often the reality given early departures (to the NFL or via the transfer portal). Even FSU started Rodemaker and Purdy as true freshmen in 2020. We’ll get a better gauge on Duffy through the spring and preseason practices but there’s a reason why FSU should pursue a veteran quarterback.

Shopping in the transfer portal: Definitely. All expectations are the transfer portal will continue to be active after the bowl games. The challenge will be getting a quarterback on campus and enrolled for the start of the spring semester, ensuring that he can begin classes, work with the team in the offseason and be ready for the start of spring practices in March. Many of the big names are off the board but it’s still early. Norvell is big on “fit” when it comes to a player and his personality, and he’s being choosy. Another good reason to grab a transfer quarterback: FSU has just three and can’t sustain an injury at the position.

Final thoughts: Regardless of how you feel about Travis, or to a lesser extent Rodemaker or Duffy, the quality of play around the quarterback must improve. Drops were pervasive in seemingly every game but the road victory over UNC. FSU can’t have two of its three leaders in receptions be a tailback (Jashaun Corbin) and tight end (Camren McDonald tied with Andrew Parchment). Alex Atkins continues to rebuild the line and the group should be deeper in 2022. Even without Corbin, the running game should be the identity but receivers like Mycah Pittman (Oregon) and Johnny Wilson (Arizona State) certainly help a passing game that needs to grow.