CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Each donning a crisp suit with his own personal flourish, Deondre Francois and Derwin James boarded a plane early Thursday morning and, along with coach Jimbo Fisher, made their way here to Charlotte for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Football Kickoff.
Over the next eight hours, the three made the rounds to ESPN, CBS and a deep gaggle of media asking a range of questions that spanned from the serious – like Florida State’s season opener against Alabama – to the silly – like “spirit animals” and favorite childhood Halloween costumes.
It’s all part of the new job descriptions for James and Francois, who officially became the latest faces of Florida State football during their time at The Westin Charlotte.
“It’s exciting to be here, for Coach Fisher to think highly of me and Deondre to select us to be here,” James said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to come out here and talk to some of these different reporters.”
Both players certainly looked the part. Francois sported a light gray suit and dark blue tie with a gold spear on his lapel, and James wore a dark brown suit with a bowtie.
When he opened his jacket, he revealed a custom FSU logo pattern on the inside lining.
“You’ve got to represent Florida State with the logo on the inside,” he said.
That paired nicely with James’ new haircut, complete with a lightning bolt shaved into the back of his head.
After a quick breakfast, the Florida State contingent began the media circuit and quickly found itself on the receiving end of some amusing queries.
James, a redshirt sophomore safety, was asked about his dog, a pitbull named Derwin James III that has its own Instagram account.
And Francois, when asked why James is such a special player, laughed and joked that it’s because, “he’s almost as smart as me.”
“I’m comfortable,” Francois said. “I prepared myself for this. I know this is what I have to do. This is what comes with being the quarterback at a major program.”
Pressed for his favorite question of the day, Francois smiled and recalled one about which Halloween costume he would choose for his head coach.
“I said I would dress him up as me,” Francois said with a laugh. “And I’m going to dress up as him, and we’re going to switch roles.
“That’ll never happen, though.”
Eventually, though, the questions turned to football – especially the upcoming Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
That game, one of the most highly-anticipated openers in recent college football history, is now just 51 days away.
And since it is the next game on the schedule, the Seminoles weren’t shy in discussing it.
“The most common question, of course, (was about) Alabama,” James said. “’How do you feel about that?’”
Pretty good, it turns out.
“I think it’s what college football is about,” Fisher said. “You get to walk in that atmosphere and environment, the two winningest teams in college football in the last seven years. I think it’s great for our league, I think it’s great for college football. I think we find out where we’re at, and I think not every year you have those games.”
More than anything, ACC Kickoff exists to celebrate the league’s football prowess and get people excited for the season ahead.
And by the end of their day, both James and Francois counted themselves among those to have fallen under the spell.
With their time in Charlotte in the books, they can now look forward to the start of fall camp in just a few weeks.
“I wish I could put on my pads today,” James said. “I wish I could go to the locker room right now and just put on my pads. But that time is coming. It’s right around the corner.”