Saturday afternoon, the Florida State Seminoles were excited to play in their showdown with Alabama and considered themselves to be legitimate contenders for the national championship. Suddenly, everything has changed. Not only did the Seminoles lose the opener to Alabama, but they lost starting quarterback Deondre Francois for the rest of the season to a knee injury. The loss to Alabama doesn’t shut the door on Florida State’s hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff, but losing Francois for the season might.

Francois suffered the knee injury in the 4th quarter of Saturday’s game while being sacked by Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison. He stayed down and immediately grabbed his left knee. Francois was eventually helped off the field, unable to put any weight on his leg. He was later seen on the sidelines using crutches and sporting a brace on his left leg. On Sunday, sources confirmed that Francois had suffered a patellar tendon injury in his left knee. In sports new today, he underwent successful surgery last night. 

Francois posted on his Instagram, “Surgery today was a success! Thank you so much to everyone who sent their thoughts, prayers, and support. The power of prayer is amazing and I appreciate it more than you know! It seems terrible right now, but God is teaching me a valuable lesson about life and I know this is all a part of his plan. I love and miss my brothers and I know they’ll play for me and give it all they got. From the bottom of my heart 12 will be back better than before… god willingly.”

The exact injury has not been disclosed, but given the successful report from the OR, it’s most likely that he suffered a tear of the patellar tendon. The patellar tendon attaches the kneecap to the tibia bone in the lower portion of the leg. The tendon works with the quadriceps muscles to straighten the leg. A minor tear in the patellar tendon can create discomfort walking and performing other normal activities, while a serious tear requires surgery in order to regain full use of the knee. The latter appears to be the prognosis for Francois.

In most instances, it takes a great deal of force to tear the patellar tendon. Either there is a direct impact made to the front of the knee or the knee is bent when the foot is planted. Based on the video of Francois being sacked, the latter appears to be the reason for the tear of his patellar tendon.

Francois is likely to wear a brace and use crutches in the weeks following the surgery. It will take four to six weeks until his knee is able to support his full body weight and he can walk with either crutches or a brace. Though knee issues are rather routine football injuries, this particular football injury will likely require at least six months for a full recovery. This confirms that Francois is finished playing in 2017.

With Francois out, true freshman James Blackman was officially announced as Florida State’s starting quarterback. Blackman passed two older quarterbacks on the depth chart during training camp despite being a less-heralded prospect than most Florida State quarterbacks of the recent past. He’s a tall and lanky signal caller at 6’5’’ 185 pounds. He possesses great arm talent and has been praised by head coach Jimbo Fisher as being a fast learner.

Still, Blackman was in high school less than six months ago, and now he’s taking the spot of last year’s ACC Rookie of the Year. He’s also the most important player on a team with national championship aspirations and no margin for error. A second loss this season would likely end Florida State’s national championship hopes. With the likes of Clemson and Louisville in their division, one loss could also keep them out of the ACC Championship Game. In short, the season-ending injury to Francois has placed a world of pressure on the shoulders of a true freshman.