Is Derwin James the best player in the country? Spoiler: Yes
11 a.m. update: SI has released its top 10, and sure enough, Derwin James was No. 1.
"James is the best player in college football because he can do more things well than anyone else," the site writes. Yup, pretty much.
Here are all of the state/local players on the countdown: No. 100 Florida kicker Eddy Pineiro, No. 99 Florida State running back Cam Akers, No. 91 FSU quarterback Deondre Francois, No. 72 UF defensive back Duke Dawson, No. 69 FSU defensive linema Derrick Nnadi, No. 67 Clemson receiver (and Tampa Bay Tech product) Deon Cain, No. 56 Miami receiver Ahmmon Richards, No. 53 USF quarterback Quinton Flowers, No. 43 FSU defensive lineman Josh Sweat, No. 19 FSU defensive back Tarvarus McFadden and No. 1 FSU safety Derwin James.
My earlier post is below.
Sports Illustrated has been unveiling its top 100 players in college football over the last two weeks. The top 10 should come out today.
My question: Will Florida State safety Derwin James be No. 1?
My answer: He should be.
You can make a valid case for Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. He did kind of just win the Heisman Trophy by putting up 51 touchdowns and 5,100 yards of offense.
But my vote (I don't have one) would still go to James. He's been on every preseason All-America team I've seen so far. His presence was felt last season, when FSU's defense initially struggled after he went down with a knee injury. See: the 63 points Jackson's Cardinals hung on the Seminoles.
When healthy, James is impossible to stop. He had 91 tackles (9 ½ for a loss), 4 ½ sacks and two fumbles forced/recovered as a true freshman. He had eight tackles and an interception in last season's opener against Ole Miss.
He can play safety. Or cornerback. Or linebacker. Or defensive end. Or special teams returner. Whatever.
"He can have the skill set to do anything," coach Jimbo Fisher said this spring.
We saw what a healthy James can do in the spring game. He blew up a poor walk-on receiver on one play, then sped from the secondary to sack quarterback Deondre Francois on the next drive.
It was only an exhibition, but it was enough to tell me what I already assumed: Derwin James will be the best player in the country this season.