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Florida State football, recruiting news: Is Derwin James the best defensive player in the country?

Despite only being a sophomore, James could be one of the nation's most productive defensive backs in 2016.

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


- Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus makes the argument that Florida State sophomore defensive back Derwin James could be the best defensive player in the country. To me, he is in the conversation as he racked up 91 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and five pass breakups in his freshman campaign even though he did not start in FSU's first five games and has a knack for being near the ball that rivals anyone I have ever seen. Should the Seminoles make a playoff run this year, James will surely play a large role in their success.

Be it as a pass-rusher, against the run, or in coverage, James lines up all over the field and grades well across the board. He's the highest-graded returning safety in the nation, and he did it all as a true freshman. Considering that, in theory, he should get better with age, it's terrifying to think how good he can be over the next two or three seasons in college. Like so many impact defenders before him, opposing quarterbacks will be scanning the field to find him before every play. There's a definite chance people will be talking about him as the best player in the nation on the defensive side of the ball in the 2016 season.

- At this week's ACC spring meetings, the Atlantic Coast Conference coaches voted in favor of approving an instant replay center for the whole conference to be created in a centralized location, as reported by Brendan Sonnone and Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel. This is a trend we have seen in many professional sports (the NBA has a centralized review center in New Jersey and the NFL's replay center is in New York) and has been discussed at the collegiate level but conferences have only been allowed to approve it since February when the NCAA rules committee voted to allow conferences to test it if they so desire. Jimbo Fisher had this to say on the matter:

"I think any time you can get a call right,  it doesn't sound like it's going to interrupt  the flow of the game," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "I mean lives are depending on that, I mean careers. Kids with what they can achieve. I think any time you can get it right, it's great.  We're basically for it."

- Fisher also shared that his stance on the possibility of an early signing period for recruits has not changed.

- With spring practice in the books, Florida State comes in at No. 2 in Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel's latest top 25 rankings. Although #2 is the same spot where Mandel put the Seminoles in his first 2016 rankings, Alabama, previously No. 3, now holds the top spot in the rankings and Clemson, who sat on top in his first rankings, now is the third-ranked team due to some questions about the Tigers' ability to replace six defensive starters from last year's team. Here are Mandel's thoughts on the 'Noles:

The 'Noles have found their quarterback, redshirt freshman Deondre Francois, who separated himself in the spring. He'll have the benefit of a veteran receiving corps (Travis Rudolph, Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield), and speedy sophomore RB Jacques Patrick should see more carries behind star Dalvin Cook. DeMarcus Walker and Josh Sweat could become the nation's top pair of bookend pass-rushers.


It was a hectic Wednesday for Florida State's recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Tim Brewster, who started off his day in Detroit taking a visit to Donovan Peoples Jones, the No. 1 wide receiver and No. 6 overall player in the 2017 recruiting class...

.. and then flew cross country to Texas to check up on 201 four-star wideout Tyrell Shavers.

Peoples Jones also stated that FSU freshman Malik Henry is one of many quarterbacks who remains in contact with him. Henry, who served as an unofficial recruiter before arriving at Florida State, seems poised to continue in that role going forward.


- A pair of former Seminoles, Ronald Darby and Eddie Goldman, find themselves on's All-Under-25 team. With 31 players drafted over the last four years, it's unsurprising that multiple 'Noles find their way onto this list but the biggest snub may be choosing the Vikings' Teddy Bridgewater, who has undoubtedly exceeded expectations, over Jameis Winston, who many, myself included, believe has the higher upside.

- Jalen Ramsey has been pegged as one of the top six NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates for the upcoming season by's Chase Goodbread. Ramsey, regarded by some as the best overall player in the 2016 draft class, should have a enormous early impact in Jacksonville.

Ramsey's versatility and football intelligence are two assets that will lend themselves to whatever ROY consideration he gathers. He's experienced at cornerback, nickelback and safety from his days at FSU, and while cornerback is where he is expected to get his first look with the Jaguars, his ability to move around the secondary as needed will help keep him on the field regardless of down-and-distance situations or which defense is called. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks has lauded Ramseyfor his football intelligence, and the Jaguars' porous pass defense (268 yards per game allowed in 2015, ranked 29th in the NFL) certainly needs immediate assistance.

- The Jacksonville Jaguars added their fourth Florida State alum to their ranks on Wednesday, signing defensive end Bjoern Werner.

Other Sports

- The FSU baseball team underwent another setback on Wednesday, falling 11-8 to FGCU in extra innings.

- Malik Beasley, the first Seminole to ever go one-and-done, talked with Safid Deen of the Tallahassee Democrat on what he is doing to prepare for this week's NBA Draft Combine.

Beasley said he's excited to leave his mark on the NBA personnel in the combine while competing against players like top shooting guard prospect Buddy Hield from Oklahoma and players who played in the Southeastern Conference.

While some prospects may have more upside, be more polished, or have accomplished more during their college careers, Beasley has a simple strategy he used as a FSU player use to stand out among the crowd.

"Just do what I do best, and enjoy the game," Beasley said. "Just play my game and have fun."

- The FSU women's basketball team added an impact transfer on Wednesday as Chatrice White, who averaged 18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in two years at Illinois will be joining the Seminoles this summer.