This is the 24th in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 34 days until FSU football, and that's how many are left on the list. That means no off days. Oh, and these are not in any specific order.
Xavier Rhodes | 6'2, 209 | RS-JR | Cornerback
Background (Courtesy school bio)
Excelled on both sides of the football in high school...led Miami Norland in both rushing and receiving as a senior, earned Miami Herald All-Dade honors as an all-purpose back...also earned All-Dade honors on the defensive side of the ball...played in the 12th annual Nike South Florida All-Star game...as a junior recorded more than 1,000 all-purpose yards...chose FSU over offers from West Virginia, Auburn and FIU...born June 19, 1990.
Career To Date
Rhodes came to Florida State as a receiver. That didn't last long. FSU quickly flipped him to the defensive side of the ball. At first he was apprehensive, but then saw the depth at receiver, the amount of money it was possible to make as a corner, and the quickness with which he could get on the field.
2009 was a medical red-shirt season after playing in only two games. Rhodes bulked up considerably and learned the position the best he could under a lame duck coaching staff.
2010 was a breakout year the proportions of which nobody could have possibly anticipated. Rhodes was voted the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and also earned National Defensive Freshman of the Year honors. He started all 14 games for Florida State.
Rhodes tremendous size and length were evident from the moment he stepped on the field as a true freshman in 2010. But what we couldn't know is that he could turn and run with opposing receivers, jam, play in off coverage and read opposing patterns and the quarterback. Rhodes was extremely good, and tallied four interceptions from quarterbacks who threw at him and didn't know any better.
Rhodes came in to 2011 with extremely high expectations. The year was a disappointment. There were rumors of attitude and work ethic issues, which weren't completely unexpected given his awesome season as a freshman. Rhodes was very good against the run, but he had issues staying healthy.
In the end, Rhodes played very well against Michael Floyd in the bowl game, and then injured his knee, missing spring practice, a chance at the NFL combine, etc.
I personally believe that Rhodes would have left for the NFL draft had he not injured his knee. The injury might be a blessing in disguise for both FSU, which gets back its best corner, and Rhodes, who gets to improve his draft stock and guarantee himself first round status.
Rhodes has a very good argument for being the best corner in the league. He could be more consistent in his technique, but that could come this year. I've not heard anything negative about his rehab, which is a good sign. He's just another part of an excellent Florida State defense.