It took Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher just four seasons to be able to say that he'd done it all as a Seminole. He won the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division in 2010, his first year in charge at FSU. Two years later, he captured the conference crown (the first of three straight ACC titles for the 'Noles), And then, in 2013, Fisher's 'Noles brought home Florida State's third national championship.
Fisher's players have also earned numerous individual awards, highlighted by several All-American honors and Jameis Winston's 2013 Heisman Trophy. But despite all the talent that's come through Tallahassee of late, I was somewhat surprised to learn that sophomore safety Derwin James can do something on opening night against Ole Miss that no player under Fisher has ever done: lead the 'Noles in tackles for five straight games. After not starting 2015's first five games, James finished beyond strong, leading FSU in tackles against NC State, Chattanooga, Florida, and Houston to close the season.
No player in 2014 strung together even three straight games leading the Seminoles in tackles: Terrance Smith went back-to-back twice, and Reggie Northrup did so once. But I figured that certainly the great Telvin Smith would have at least equaled James' four in a row in 2013. Not the case, in part due to FSU simply annihilating teams in that title season, which led to a lot of playing time for reserves: Chris Casher co-led in tackles with Smith for the Maryland contest, and E.J. Levenberry was the solo leader against NC State. The best anyone ever did was three straight games-- which was, unsurprisingly, Smith (Boston College, Maryland, Clemson).
Christian Jones was the only player to lead the team in tackles for two straight in 2012, doing so against NC State and Boston College. In 2011, Nigel Bradham led FSU for three straight, against BC, Miami, and Virginia. But remember that name. Nick Moody led the 'Noles in tackles for three consecutive in 2010, vs. Maryland, UF, and Virginia Tech.
But Bradham was the last to lead the Seminoles in tackles for five straight games, and he did so to conclude Bobby Bowden's legendary career at Florida State. Bradham closed out the 2009 campaign as a leading tackler against Clemson, Wake Forest, UMD, UF, and West Virginia, in Bowden's final game. And in fun, full-circle fashion, he also led FSU in tackles in Fisher's first game at the helm, against Samford (the alma mater of both Bowden and Fisher) in 2010, making it six in a row.
James' active run of four consecutive games leading the 'Noles in tackles really serves to demonstrate his incredible versatility as a defender. Pass-happy offenses may require defenders to make more stops in the open field. Running teams place more of an emphasis on the line of scrimmage. James has shown that he can garner takedowns downfield, in the box, and in the opposition's backfield. Jalen Ramsey, the Seminole to whom James is most often compared, led Florida State in tackles, over his exceptional three-year career in Tallahassee, just once (against Oklahoma State in 2014).
Northrup, who led FSU with 94 tackles in 2015, is gone. James came in second, with 91, followed by draft-hopefuls Lamarcus Brutus (68) and Smith (65). DeMarcus Walker was fifth last season, with 58, and Ro'Derrick Hoskins tied for sixth, with Ramsey, at 52.
So, do you think James, against Ole Miss, becomes the first player to lead the 'Noles in tackles for five straight games under Fisher? There's a poll below in which you can voice your opinion.