FSU Star Safety Derwin James Gets Reps Returning Kicks

    Florida State star safety Derwin James is back to full health. The versatile defender could see his role expand with the Seminoles.

    March 7, 2017

    Florida State star safety Derwin James is back to full health. The versatile defender could see his role expand with the Seminoles.


    Florida State fans could breathe a sigh of relief on Monday when head coach Jimbo Fisher announced that Derwin James, whose left knee injury sidelined him for last season’s final 11 games, was 100 percent healthy and a full-go for spring football.

    The versatile safety will be a big piece to the Seminoles’ puzzle if they have any chance to compete for an ACC Atlantic division crown and a possible berth to the College Football Playoff.

    As a true freshman in 2015, James recorded 91 tackles, 4.5 sacks, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles and recoveries.

    Seminole fans saw that the leaky defense desperately missed James in 2016, as the middle of the field was exposed by opposing quarterbacks and their passing attacks. The infusion of James will instantly help FSU’s pass defense in 2017.

    But is Fisher planning to add a new element to the James arsenal?

    The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder, whose size-speed combination makes him an elite player, worked on returning kicks during Monday’s opening practice. That’s a scary thought for opposing ACC foes.

    We already have seen James blitz as an edge rusher, drop back as a safety and cover as a cornerback. Returning kicks would be even more valuable to the ‘Noles as well as his NFL future.

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

    Though there are some key pieces such as Dalvin Cook missing, the ‘Noles return a boatload of starters from their 10-win 2016 team that beat Michigan in the Orange Bowl. FSU has some issues that it needs to work through this spring, as all teams do. But the challenge becomes a lot less daunting when a player of James’ caliber is roaming the field.

    There were no setbacks on Monday, and the next challenge will be hitting.

    “I’m waiting on that,” James said, “but that’ll come.”

    MORE: FSU Seminoles Spring Practice Preview – 3 Storylines To Watch

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