Derwin James is already one of the best returning defensive players in college football. While the do-everything defensive back missed extended time with injury in 2016, there is little doubt that Florida State’s defensive centerpiece will be back at full strength for 2017 and that should inject fear in the hearts of the opposition on a weekly basis.
However, Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated recently profiled James and, within that piece, he suggested that James could actually star on offense this season.
“Offensively, he could play receiver. Or tailback. Or tight end. Or as a wildcat quarterback. In fact, offensive line is the only place James’s teammates believe he might struggle. But not for the reason you might think. “He’d be trying to be too aggressive,” safety Trey Marshall said, “and somebody would hit him with a finesse move.”
Given that Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers was a Heisman Trophy finalist last year as an outside linebacker/kick returner/tailback, James certainly seems capable of playing his way to New York. Back at full strength, the only limit to what James can do is the Florida State coaching staff’s imagination.”
Obviously, Florida State would have to monitor James’ workload in an effort to keep him fresh but this is a terrifying proposition. The Seminoles do have an elite quarterback returning in Deondre Francois and there is usually no shortage of offensive talent in Tallahassee. With that said, James is a special talent and the comparison to Jabrill Peppers says it all in that regard.
It is probably safe to assume that Derwin James won’t suddenly become the main offensive weapon for Florida State in addition to his defensive role but, if he does flip to the offensive side occasionally, look out.