Derwin James is a redshirt sophomore who only played two games last season. And he’s the best player on one of the best teams in the country. James, who returns from a season-ending knee injury Saturday night vs. No. 1 Alabama (8 p.m. ET, ABC), is the lynchpin in everything No. 3 Florida State hopes to do differently on defense this season. He’s 6-3, 211 pounds, and he’s listed as a safety. But that’s only the starting point. “I think he’s every bit as good as anybody we’ve ever played against,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said of the Seminoles safety, via the Orlando Sentinel. “This guy’s just a very aggressive player.” Here’s what you need to know about one of the most dynamic players in the nation: 1. James was a superstar as a freshman. Ranked No. 5 in the Class of 2015 by Rivals, James joined a Seminoles team that had some question marks on defense. And while he wasn’t the best player on the team from Day One — Jalen Ramsey, Dalvin Cook and Demarcus Walker were on this roster — he was stunningly close. James posted 91 tackles (9.5 for loss), including 4.5 sacks. He deflected four passes, returned and forced two fumbles and seemed to be everywhere all the time. That year, he was used largely as a traditional safety — but the talent to do more was obvious. 2. The injury hasn’t hurt his NFL draft stock. James was a game-changer in the Seminoles’ opener in 2016, against Ole Miss, before getting hurt in the second game. But NFL scouts have been drooling all over him since he was in high school.
|IN THIS STORY:|
Derwin James is Florida State's positionless superstar with real Heisman hopes
USA Today | Jan 9