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Adversity Doesn’t Stop Deondre Francois

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Though the circumstances around this new challenge are obviously different, the persistence behind this recovery will be exactly the same.

For all that Deondre Francois has accomplished during his Florida State career, earning ACC Rookie of the Year honors, helping the Seminoles to wins over the likes of Ole Miss, Miami, Florida and Michigan, he has done it all by example. Though athletic and talented, calm and poised, the defining trait, for Francois, is toughness. He willed the Seminoles to ten wins his freshman season; after a torn patella tendon against Alabama, Francois' return is already in the works.

Comebacks are nothing new for a player who emerged, down 22 points early, in the crucible of competition. In his initial college game, Francois, as an inexperienced redshirt freshman, found himself trailing 28-6 in a high-profile season-opener with Ole Miss. Francois, when the outlook was most-ominous, truly settled in. With the first half coming to a close, Francois led the struggling-Seminoles down the field, connecting with Travis Rudolph on a critical 16-yard touchdown pass, a score that changed the course of the game.

Francois was absolutely leveled by an oncoming edge-rusher on his first career touchdown pass; he got right back up, ready for more. 

"Things weren't going right, but I couldn't panic because my team needed me behind the wheel. So I just kept chopping," Francois explained after the victory over the Rebels. 

In a winning effort, Francois finished 33-of-52 passing for 419 yards and two touchdowns. His most impressive effort, however, was one beyond measure.

"He's a kid who loves his team," FSU coach head coach Jimbo Fisher nodded post-game. "His teammates believe in him, and he's a fighter, and he's a competitor, which I'm very proud of."

Though the circumstances around this new challenge are obviously different, the persistence behind this recovery will be exactly the same. More than his physical abilities, even, grit and tenacity has made Francois one of the most respected players in all of college football. He brushed off both big hits and big deficits last season, rallying Florida State time and time again. The end result was a powerful leadership, an unflappable influence from a first-year player, that was on display from the start.

The last game full-game for Francois was a testament to that drive. On a night where he was not completely in rhythm, Francois responded to a late go-ahead score from Michigan in the Orange Bowl with a signature game-winning touchdown pass to Nyqwan Murray; the 12-yard fade came on third down, with 36 seconds to play. Pushed to the absolute limit, Francois, again, stood strong.

"That guy, you talk about a competitor now, he'll lay it on the line for his team, and I think that's one of the reason our team is so tough," Fisher stated afterwards.

After successful surgery Tuesday, Francois' focus will soon turn towards rehabilitation; adversity stands no chance. For all of the opponents he has already beaten, the odds are part of that long line. Trying times have been go-time for Francois.   

The redshirt-sophomore will also continue to support his team through his guidance and perspective. Francois will be an invaluable resource for Florida State's new starter, talented true freshman James Blackman, and the rest of the signal callers. In many ways, the quarterback depth chart will still be led by the same guy.   

While Francois is going through a difficult process, he isn't backing down and he isn't going away.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports