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FSU backup QB James Blackman is an unconventional team leader who could start Saturday

Backup FSU quarterback James Blackman’s energy inspires his teammates. He’s a light kept close during times of distress.

After going through two tough seasons at Florida State, it seems his upbeat presence is constant and unwavering.

Yes, he is the backup quarterback. Backup quarterbacks do not garner much attention, but after starting 12 games once Deondre Francois injured his knee against Alabama last season, Blackman became an unconventional team leader.

“I just wake up every morning, thankful that I get to play this game every day,” Blackman said. “Come out here and get better. I just love it. I just appreciate this game and am thankful for the gift that God has given me.”

Blackman lost the starting job to Francois a week before the start of the 2018 season.

Being in the background for most of the year has slowed the game down for Blackman. He has sat, watched and absorbed the tendencies of his team, making him a reliable mediator in times of conflict.

His personality has blossomed within the winning culture coach Willie Taggart is determined to establish.

While FSU is coming off a tough loss to Clemson, the team still rallies around its leaders. Blackman is a spark for others who draws some of his inspiration from Taggart.

“Our head football coach is as good with the kids as any guy I’ve ever been around,” FSU offensive coordinator Walt Bell said. “I would expect our best effort today – or as good as possible. He is as good as there’s been handling the kids and getting the best out of them.

“We have a lot of work to do. We have to keep getting better. We have to get healthy. There’s plenty of things that we have to do.”

The work Bell references is FSU’s 4-4 record and the quest to deliver a winning season.

Some have suggested a quarterback change could help the Seminoles achieve their goal.

With 11 minutes remaining against Clemson, Francois was injured after a sack and eventually helped off the field. Blackman stepped in and was 3-of-4 passing for 88 yards and one touchdown.

“No, not surprised at all,” Bell said of Blackman’s performance on Saturday. “There’s a reason he plays at Florida State and there’s a reason he played last year when his number was called. I’m excited to see him play well and to go out there and do his job.”

Blackman took first-team reps during practice on Tuesday.

Taggart said on Monday Francois is “beat up” and “day-to-day.”

Francois, instead of taking snaps and making passes, tossed a football to the backup quarterbacks, who were doing passing drills.

If Florida State has to start Blackman against NC State Saturday, the team has faith in his ability to lead on the field as he has off it.

“James is a great teammate. I think that’s a requisite of this position. I know Coach Taggart may have mentioned yesterday about Marvin [Wilson] being a guy that is everything that we want a Florida State Seminole to be,” Bell said. “James is right there with him. I’m always proud of James. How he works, how he handles his business and how important this team is to him. As long as he doesn’t change and keeps doing what he’s doing, I think he’s got a really bright future ahead of him.”

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