Derwin James isn’t the biggest name in college football and at least part of that comes from the fact that he missed most of the 2016 season. The do-everything safety for the Florida State Seminoles went down with a knee injury after just two games a season ago but, given his immense talent, that hasn’t stopped the hype train from rolling.
In fact, the good folks at Sports Illustrated ranked the top 100 players in the country for the 2017 season and James came in at No. 1 overall.
He shone with seven tackles and two sacks in Florida State’s Garnet and Gold game in April, and he was caught on camera throwing down a dunk the same month that would have earned better scores than most of the jams in the NBA’s contest in February. 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. 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.
This is certainly a reasonable characterization of the tremendous impact player that James is when he sees the field and the writer indicates that James ranks at No. 1 “because he can do more things well than anyone else.” That distinction would be tough to argue given the way that he can contribute all over the field and James will soon be a household name nationally if he isn’t already.
Debate will rage about this pick, especially because it will be difficult to measures James’ impact statistically in the same way that you can with a quarterback or running back. That doesn’t mean the list is wrong, though, and discussion like this is what makes college football great.