TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida State's defense landed one of its most important recruits Monday without leaving campus when redshirt sophomore cornerback Xavier Rhodes informed football coach Jimbo Fisher that he would be returning for his junior season.
A two-year starter, the tall and talented draft-eligible corner weighed his options carefully before coming to his decision.
"I could have gone and been a second or third round (draft choice) or possibly first round, but that was a risk," Rhodes said. "Why take that risk when if I come back and have the kind of season I can, improve my stock and be a first-rounder?"
Rhodes, whose knee sprain suffered in the Champs Sports Bowl is improving, consulted with his family before opting to rejoin the defense that will return nine starters from one of the nation's top units.
"I talked to my family, including my grandmother [Maudrina Johnson] and they told me I should come back and get my school and improve stock," said Rhodes, who is equally excited about the prospect of playing on a team that will have high hopes after a 9-4 season.
Rhodes' decision comes days after fellow draft-eligible Seminole defenders, defensive end Brandon Jenkins and cornerback Greg Reid, announced they would also be back for the 2012 season.
"I think it's a very mature decision, as far as individual responsibility," Fisher said. "It's huge for our program and gives us continuity in the secondary. .... We'll benefit from having he, Greg (Reid) and Brandon (Jenkins) back and they'll benefit from playing on a very good team - a very good defense - while improving their stock. We're very fortunate."
Rhodes finished the season seventh on the team with 43 tackles, including 36 solo stops, to go along with five passes defended and an interception. That performance came on the heels of the 2010 season when Rhodes earned Freshman All-American honors and was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Miami native was also selected National Defensive Freshman of the Year by Collegefootballnews.com after racking up 59 tackles and 16 passes defended - including four interceptions - which led all freshmen nationally.