Deondre Francois is now the starting quarterback for Hampton University. It’s probably not where he thought he’d be in 2019 after his redshirt freshman season in 2016, when he torched many an ACC defense as the starting quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles.
Francois threw for 20 touchdowns and rushed for five more that first season, good enough to win ACC Rookie of the Year. His team amassed a 10-3 record, which included an Orange Bowl victory over Michigan.
Francois’s logical next step seemed to be toward the NFL as a high draft pick, but it never materialized.
Francois was poised for a productive 2017 season following his successful freshman campaign, but in the opener against Alabama, he severely injured his patellar tendon and missed the remainder of the season. He returned to the starting role in Tallahassee for 2018, but could never recapture his freshman form. Then this past February, Francois was dismissed from the Florida State football team after his girlfriend accused him of domestic abuse.
From burgeoning superstar to college football afterthought, Francois attributes his fall to his neglect of God.
“I lost sight of God. That’s what really happened,” Francois said in a YouTube documentary by Madison Hughes (7:45 mark). “You know, people don’t know what’s real and what’s fake, but I just lost sight of the Lord.”
Francois said worldly pleasures began to have undue influence on his life, replacing God as his top priority.
“I was worshiping things, because worshiping means giving all your attention and time to one thing,” Francois said in the video. “I was worshiping sleeping. I was worshiping video games … I was worshiping people. You can even worship your family more than you do God, but nobody comes before God.”
Since the accusations arose and his name was dragged through the dirt almost seven months ago, Francois has been working to rebuild his life and his football career, hoping for a second chance.
Earlier this month, that chance came. He enrolled as a graduate transfer at Hampton University to be the team’s starter at quarterback. He has two years of eligibility remaining. He said he’s gotten tougher mentally, and going from Florida State to Hampton is his chance to prove it. He knows there is still a crack in the doorway to the NFL if he continues to work hard on the field.
Off the field, Francois said he’s staying focused on God, who gives him purpose and direction in all things.
“It’s not over,” Francois said in the video. “Just continue to pray and continue to keep the faith. That’s all that it is, just a test of your faith.”
Francois and his Hampton teammates will begin their 2019 season at home Friday at 6 p.m. ET against Elizabeth City State.
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