Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A healthy Derwin James could be FSU's biggest addition next season

TALLAHASSEE — As coach Jimbo Fisher walked into Florida State's first practice of the spring Monday, he paused to talk to the player getting ready behind the white truck by the sod cemetery.

Fisher had to check on Derwin James.

Of all the reasons Fisher has to be optimistic about his Seminoles' championship hopes in 2017, none are larger than the do-it-all defensive star who returned to practice from the left knee injury that sidelined him for last season's final 11 games.

"What he's done in the past, that's great," Fisher said.

But FSU is counting on what will happen in the future to be even greater.

When healthy, James is as talented as any player in the country — the defensive equivalent of a dynamic quarterback like Louisville's Lamar Jackson or Clemson's Deshaun Watson. As a true freshman in 2015, James recorded 91 tackles (9½ for a loss), 4½ sacks, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles and recoveries.

At 6 feet 3, 211 pounds, James has the size and rare versatility that will be wowing scouts at the NFL scouting combine this time next year. James can blitz as an edge rusher, drop back as a safety or cover as a cornerback. On Monday, James even worked on returning kicks.

"He can have the skill set to do anything," Fisher said.

That's why it's not a stretch to think that FSU's 2016 title hopes ended when James tore his meniscus in the Seminoles' Week 2 win over Charleston Southern.

James' absence wasn't worth 43 points (the margin of defeat in the road humiliation to Jackson's Cardinals). But would North Carolina have been able to carve up FSU's defense and set up the game-winning field goal with James roaming the secondary? Could Watson have picked apart FSU for 134 passing yards and 17 points in the fourth quarter with James flying across the field?

"I wasn't really watching it as, what would be different?" James said. "But of course there's plays in the game I feel like I can make and help my team."

If James makes them this year, FSU could be in for another championship season.

Fisher counts 17 returning starters from a 10-win team that beat Michigan in the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles will likely start 2017 in the top 10 (if not five) before a massive showdown with Alabama in Atlanta. A national title run is a possibility.

But, as FSU learned last year, some of that promise hinges on James' surgically repaired left knee.

He passed his first test Monday, with no ill effects, and he's already eager for the next one — hitting.

"I'm waiting on that," James said, "but that'll come."

'NOLES NOTES: Defensive back Tarvarus McFadden will miss all of spring practice as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. He was tied for the national lead with eight interceptions last fall. … Dameyune Craig — the recruiter who landed Jameis Winston — rejoined FSU as an offensive quality control analyst after assistant coaching stops at LSU and Auburn.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

 (left to right) Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44), DUPLICATE***Florida State Seminoles defensive back Derwin James (3) and Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) walk onto the field before the Camping World Kickoff against the Mississippi Rebels on Monday September 5, 2016 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Final Score FSU 45, Ole Miss 34.

MONICA HERNDON | Times

(left to right) Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44), DUPLICATE***Florida State Seminoles defensive back Derwin James (3) and Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) walk onto the field before the Camping World Kickoff against the Mississippi Rebels on Monday September 5, 2016 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Final Score FSU 45, Ole Miss 34.

A healthy Derwin James could be FSU's biggest addition next season 03/06/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 7, 2017 5:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant, Alex Colome worrying in 10-inning victory (w/video)

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning while working eight solid. And Alex Colome couldn't have been much worse, blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better, which could make the decision whether to trade him tougher. Cobb had a no-hitter through six and threw his biggest pitch with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, getting Josh Bell to roll into a double play.

  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)