Prep football | Big colleges taking notice of new IMG quarterback Deondre Francois

Transfer Deondre Francois has 22 offers, including Florida St., Notre Dame

jdill@bradenton.comJune 18, 2014 

IMG Academy quarterback Deondre Francois directs traffic during the Ascenders' May 22 intrasquad scrimmage. Francois has 22 Division I college offers heading into his senior season at IMG. Photo courtesy IMG ACADEMY

PICASA

MANATEE -- Deondre Francois figured out he had talent to play college football when he was a freshman at Orlando Olympia based on making the varsity squad as a backup quarterback.

The IMG Academy transfer is heading into his senior season with a litany of college offers that confirms that mindset.

The latest of his 22 offers comes from traditional powerhouse Notre Dame.

"This whole process has just been overwhelming; getting all these offers is just showing me the hard work has been paying off," said Francois, whose top-six list includes Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State, Auburn, Notre Dame and Tennessee.

Originally from Miami, Francois relocated to Orlando while in the sixth grade. He found himself at Olympia after middle school, and he impressed last fall when playing against IMG with both his arm and legs.

"He was going up against a pretty formidable defense," IMG football head coach Chris Weinke said. "In that particular game, he threw a couple passes that what I deem as special passes. And not everybody can make those. He threaded the needle on a skinny post for a touchdown, and the most impressive thing really was his ability to check the ball down when things weren't open down field. And then he had a couple huge runs on third-and-long against us for them to continue to sustain drives."

At IMG, Francois has continued to improve and garnered attention at top camps

this summer such as the Elite 11 quarterback competition, Nike's The Opening and Under Armour Prime 21.

Francois excelled at Rivals100 5-Star Challenge earlier this month in Baltimore when he was named the quarterback Most Valuable Player.

One of the other prospects, Corona, Calif., native Blake Barnett, recently decommitted from Notre Dame to pave the way for the Fighting Irish to take notice of Francois, who is also expected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game in January.

"It comes as no surprise that they would be interested in him," Weinke said. "I just think he's an ultra-talented kid that is going to transition very well and have a lot of success at the next level."

Weinke, who won a Heisman Trophy at Florida State, aided Cam Newton's shift to the NFL from Auburn.

"Coach Weinke has helped me a lot at the quarterback position, being a quarterback himself," Francois said. "I'm learning an NFL-type playbook. At my old school, Olympia, it wasn't the same. We were learning high school stuff. Coming here is more prep and more technology."

According to ESPN's recruiting rankings, Francois is No. 47 overall and is the top-rated quarterback who has yet to make his college commitment known.

That college choice is expected in July.

But that off-the-field chatter is left precisely there as Francois blocks it out during practice and in games.

"It's just the drive that I have in my heart," he said. "I've been playing football for awhile. I just love it. I strive to be great. I want to be great, so I just stay focused ... on my goals."

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