TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Word for word, Florida State’s DeMarcus Walker and Auden Tate expressed the same confidence. They sat on opposite sides of a room muddled with the cacophony of sound bites and shuffling feet, far outside earshot of each other.
The question was posed: Would most players stick it out like Sean Maguire if they were dealt the same hand of injuries, backup roles and benchings?
“No. No. Not at all,” Walker said.
And Tate, verbatim: “No. No. Not at all.”
Maguire’s career is a sequence of what-ifs, finally culminating on Florida State’s senior night. Before Friday’s 45-7 win against Boston College, Maguire, a redshirt senior, received one of the loudest ovations. Part of it was for a 4-2 career as a starter. Most of the adulation celebrated all the days he was not -- difficult times always handled with poise.
Walker said Maguire embodies everything the Florida State program is built on, and he told his teammates that. It’s why he enjoyed seeing Maguire take the field against the Eagles as an injured Deondre Francois’ replacement. It’s possibly the last time Maguire will play in what has been a cumbersome career, but if so, he finished it with two touchdown passes.
“His parents ought to be the proudest parents in the world,” Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. “That guy right there is the salt of the earth. Whatever you ask him to do -- great teammate, great senior, big games he’s played in -- he performs and goes in with a lot of heart and a lot of toughness.”
Before the season, Maguire lost the Seminoles’ starting quarterback job for the third time in his career. Everett Golson won the job from him before the 2015 season and once again in November -- before Maguire replaced him again after just a quarter. To end 2015, he finished the Peach Bowl on a broken ankle because the Seminoles needed him with Golson leaving the team after the regular season.
The surgery that followed cost Maguire spring 2016, and then once again healthy in August, he broke a bone in his foot that saddled him to second string.
He committed to Florida State before Jameis Winston and signed in the same class knowing it wouldn’t be until Winston left that he’d have an opportunity. He was comfortable with being the hero backup in 2014 against Clemson and Winston’s heir in 2015. With the exception of a few games, that never developed.
What if he decommitted in 2012? What if Golson signed elsewhere? What if he didn’t twice need surgery in 2016?
Through it all, Maguire stayed at Florida State, even as other quarterbacks transferred out.
“It’s real unfortunate with injuries and the situations he’s been, in but he’s held strong through it all,” Tate said. “That’s why everyone on the team respects him.”
This season, he’s watched from the bench as the Seminoles, a preseason top-5 team, lost three of their first eight games. While Francois is playing well, the Seminoles as a team lacked the qualities that have come to define Maguire. They were lazy and uncommitted, which attributed to the slow start.
Tate said Maguire was one of the most vocal players at practice, trying to cure the Seminoles of their bad habits. Maguire was there to help Francois as much as possible even after losing the job to the redshirt freshman, which gave Tate the “utmost respect” for Maguire.
Maguire was substituted in for an injured Francois last month against Miami, but he had a short completion, a sack and a red-zone interception on his three dropbacks before Francois reentered the game.
He rebounded against the Eagles, throwing a touchdown to Tate on his first drive. The Seminoles scored on all three of Maguire’s possessions, excluding the one that finished off the final 3:15. They could be the last drives of Maguire’s rollercoaster career.
“It's one of those things where you know you just have to be ready,” Maguire said. “The situation sucks, but I'm mature enough to handle the situation that I'm in. That's why I prepare every week like I'm going to play and that's why I think everybody on this team respects me.”