A few years after taking the college football world by storm, Deondre Francois is possibly on his last chance.
Francois, who appeared destined for stardom at Florida State, is now playing alongside Johnny Manziel in the Fan Controlled Football league. Much like Manziel, a former Heisman Trophy winner and a first-round draft pick, Francois is long removed from packed stadiums and nationally-televised games.
Manziel is the talk of the FCF, and for good reason. But there’s another notable quarterback in the league, and this is Francois’ story.
Deondre Francois is playing with Johnny Manziel in the FCF
Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is understandably the face of the FCF, and he’s taken advantage of the opportunity thus far.
Manziel plays for the Zappers, one of the league’s four teams. Elsewhere in the league is Deondre Francois, who is currently a backup quarterback for the Wild Aces.
College football fans will remember Francois, who was expected to become the next Jameis Winston at Florida State. Now playing professionally, Francois completed five of his first seven passes in the FCF for 76 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.
The former Florida State quarterback also picked up 23 yards on three carries.
Off-field issues ended Francois’ time at Florida State
After redshirting in 2015, Deondre Francois took the starting reins at Florida State in 2016 and immediately showed why the Seminoles signed him.
Francois completed 58.8% of his passes for 3,350 yards, 20 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in 13 games. The redshirt freshman also ran for five touchdowns.
A knee injury limited Francois to just one game in 2017, and he took a step back under Willie Taggart in 2018. Francois completed 57.3% of his passes for 2,731 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 12 touchdowns in 2018.
Francois dealt with several legal problems while at FSU. According to the Orlando Sentinel, local police in Tallahassee, Fla., seized 17 grams of marijuana during a raid of Francois’s apartment in 2018.
Although Francois was charged with misdemeanor possession, they were later dropped after he performed community service.
Florida State dismissed Francois in 2019 after a video emerged on social media of a woman accusing him of assaulting her. According to 247 Sports, the woman’s sister said that the Instagram account was hacked, and the accusations against Francois were not true.
Francois had previously called the police on the woman for allegedly destroying belongings in his apartment. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, police did not charge the woman because they were “unable to establish probable cause to make an arrest for battery.”
Taggart and the Seminoles did not bring Francois back to FSU. Francois spent the 2019 season at Hampton University, an FCS school located in Virginia.
The FCF may not be enough to help Deondre Francois
Although he is technically playing professional football, the odds remain stacked against Deondre Francois.
The FCF is not professional football the way that the AAF and XFL were. Additionally, Francois is a talented quarterback with a history of off-field incidents that may have already scared teams away.
“Domestic assault charges aside, I cannot recall scouting a QB with more football character red flags than Francois,” Jim Nagy, the Senior Bowl’s executive director, tweeted in 2019.
Francois likely needs a chance in the CFL or the XFL, if it returns in 2022, to prove his long-term value. An open NFL workout would help, but the FCF may not open that door.
In a 2020 interview with The Undefeated, Francois explained why he never quit on football, even with so many roadblocks thrown in his way.
“I want to be able to provide for my family like never before. Setting up the future for my kids and grandkids and being able to break a generational curse while starting something new with my family is what I live for.”
Francois and the Wild Aces play Johnny Manziel and the Zappers on Saturday, February 27, in a matchup of talented quarterbacks who may never truly realize their NFL dreams.