Derwin James made a massive splash as a true freshman back in 2015, starting out of the 2016 season in the same fashion.
But the Florida State sophomore saw his season come to a terrible early end with a knee injury, derailing what had the makings of a successful year. But James is back now, recovered from his lateral meniscus tear and ready to make a mark, which Sports Illustrated firmly believes he will.
The publication ended its series ranking the Top 100 college football players by placing James, the redshirt sophomore defensive back, as the No. 1 player in the country.
“James may be the only player in the country capable of lining up virtually everywhere on the defensive side of the ball, and Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher might want to consider dialing up a running play for him or asking him to run a deep route,” wrote Chris Johnson. “Billing James as the next Jabrill Peppers is underselling the number of tasks the 6’3”, 211-pound redshirt sophomore can perform on the field at a high level. The NFL team that eventually uses a top-10 pick on James will probably want him to focus on one position. Fisher should give James the opportunity to demonstrate why that approach would be a gross misuse of his talents. James is the best player in college football because he can do more things well than anyone else.”
James was named All-ACC third team in 2015 after recording 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, five pass breakups, three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also earned honorable mention All-American honors from CBSSports.com and was named a freshman All-American by USA Today, Sporting News and more.