Sidelines with John Clay

Florida State quarterback candidate has a UK connection

Florida State quarterbacks Bailey Hockman (10) and James Blackman (1) shared a laugh after interviews concluded at team’s media day Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Florida State quarterbacks Bailey Hockman (10) and James Blackman (1) shared a laugh after interviews concluded at team’s media day Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. AP

Florida State head football coach Willie Taggart raised some eyebrows over the weekend when he said James Blackman and Bailey Hockman were ahead of expected starter Deondre Francois in the competition to be the Seminoles’ quarterback on opening day.

Hmm, Bailey Hockman?

If that last name sounds familiar to Kentucky football fans, it should. Turns out Bailey Hockman, a redshirt freshman from Georgia, is the nephew of former Kentucky quarterback Ryan Hockman.

Ryan Hockman was primarily a backup quarterback for the Cats from 1990-92 when he also earned Academic All-American honors under head coach Bill Curry. The Ohio native played in 14 career games, completing 84 of 151 passes for 962 yards and six touchdowns with eight interceptions.

His father, Ken Hockman, a self-described “Bobby Bowden disciple,” is a member of the Ohio Coaches Hall of Fame who has nearly 50 years of coaching experience. And Ryan’s brother, Kyle, is the head coach at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Ga., and the father of Bailey Hockman.

Kyle Hockman has been the head coach at McEachern since 2008. The Cincinnati native, who played for Loveland High School, was the head coach at Ryle High School in northern Kentucky from 1999 through 2002.

At McEachern, Bailey Hockman was ranked the 11th best pro-style quarterback in the class of 2017 by 247Sports. The 6-foot-2, 206-pounder threw for 2,604 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior at McEachern. After first committing to Georgia, Hockman reopened his recruiting and committed to former FSU coach Jimbo Fisher in April of 2016. He had also received offers from Alabama and North Carolina.

It was in the opening-game, 24-7 loss to Florida State last season that Francois tore the patellar tendon in his left knee, ending his season. In stepped Blackman, who completed 173 of 297 passes for 2,230 yards for 19 touchdowns and 11 interception as the Seminoles finished 7-6.

Fisher promptly departed Tallahassee for Texas A&M to take over the Aggies. FSU quickly went out and hired Taggart, who had built successful programs at first Western Kentucky and then South Florida before spending just one season at Oregon.

[Jimbo Fisher and Mark Stoops once worked together, now they’re foes]

Taggart inherited Hockman, but likes what he has seen from the Georgia native.

“Bailey Hockman and James Blackman, from a great understanding of what we’re doing, they’re probably a little ahead of Francois,” Taggart said Saturday.

“I think I bring a 1-2 punch to the table,” said Hockman. “I have that desired will that we’re not going to lose. I think that’s something that I have.”

No doubt he has also received some tips from his uncle. Ryan Hockman is the director of coaching and programming at Throwing Zone Athletics in Jacksonville. Before that, he was the owner of Score 6 QB Academy in Washington. He has also been a high school coach at Clarenceville (2003-05) and Northville (2005-07) High Schools in Michigan.

Now in Florida, Ryan can make the short trip to see his nephew play with the ‘Noles. FSU opens the season on Monday, Sept. 3, against Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Florida State 2018 football schedule

9/3Virginia Tech
9/22No Illinois
10/20Wake Forest
11/3@NC State
11/10@Notre Dame
11/17Boston College
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