Skip to main content

'I can tell you in about two minutes if I'm going to recruit him or not.' Jimbo explains what he looks for in QBs

Jimbo Fisher arrived at Florida State, and since that time every quarterback who has played at least two seasons under his tutelage as a full-time starter has gone on to become a first round draft pick.

First, there was Christian Ponder, QB1 for FSU from 2008-10 and the No. 12 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Ponder led to EJ Manuel, who led the 'Noles from 2011-12 and was picked 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2013. Manuel begat Jameis Winston, a Heisman Trophy winner, national champion and No. 1 overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015.

After that, admittedly, the trail gets a little fuzzy. Deondre Francois enjoyed a successful freshman season in 2016, throwing for 3,350 yards on 8.4 an attempt, before his 2017 was lost to a season-ending knee injury.

Fisher, of course, left for Texas A&M after the 2017 season, where the clock reset. After a prolonged quarterback battle, Kellen Mond won the honor to quarterback Jimbo's inaugural team and promptly threw for 3,107 yards with 24 touchdowns against nine interceptions on 7.5 yards per attempt -- all vast improvements from his freshman campaign of 2017.

Long story short, Fisher knows what he's looking for when he's looking for a quarterback, and he shared that insight with SiriusXM during SEC media days. The process for Jimbo is equal parts art and science, leaning heavily on intangibles.

The reason Fisher relies so much on intangibles is because there are a lot of quarterbacks with the physical gifts to play in the SEC, but not nearly as many that can stand up to the rigors of playing across from SEC defenses week after week and under the watchful, demanding eye of their head coach.

Because of that, Jimbo's hunt for a Jimbo-Good quarterback is kind of like former Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart's definition of obscenity: He knows it when he sees it.

"There's got to be a certain level of arm talent to play the position. Now, how well he moves or doesn't move is irrelevant to me. (Depending on) where you're at in your program, mobile guys may have to play more than stationary guys and a year later, if you get it established, (the stationary guy) could be a better player, but the first thing is arm talent.

"And then I look for competitive spirit. Is the guy competitive? Is he tough? I always believe this: if the quarterback isn't the toughest guy on your team, the team ain't tough. He's got to have a presence about him. If he walks in a room, I can tell you in about two minutes if I'm going to recruit him or not.

"I believe when that guy walks in a room, he doesn't have to be big, but he has to have a presence and a confidence about him, not an arrogance, and how he presents himself. A lot of those intangibles I truly believe in.

"And then we get into how I coach or what I call based on how great his arm is, what he throws well, can he run. But I believe in competitiveness and then also the ability to process information, his intelligence level. You've got to be able to process the game, because the quarterback game comes down to two things: decision making and accuracy."

Fisher has landed signatures or pledges of two quarterbacks since his arrival in College Station: Buford, Ga.'s Zach Calzada in the class of 2019 and Denton, Texas' Eli Stowers in the class of 2021. Calzada is a 6-foot-3, 195-pound pro-style quarterback, and Stowers is a dual-threat listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds heading into his junior year of high school. Two different quarterbacks that most certainly have one thing in common -- they won over Jimbo in their first two minutes with him.