Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat was one of the few members of the Seminoles’ 2015 recruiting class who saw a sizable amount of meaningful snaps a season ago.
Sweat, whose excellent freshman season is somewhat overshadowed by the phenomenal year that freshman safety Derwin James had, made 13 starts for FSU on the defensive front last season.
What makes all of this exponentially more impressive is him admitting that he was not completely healthy in 2015.
“Last year, I was at like 85%,” Sweat recently stated. “I missed spring workouts and summer workouts. I was just tired.”
Entering his senior season of high school, Sweat was the No. 1 overall player in the 2015 recruiting class from a number of recruiting outlets. However, a torn ACL and dislocated left knee sidelined Sweat and dropped him from the top spot of the rankings. The injury brought Sweat’s potential early contributions into serious question as the two injuries combined often require a recovery of upwards of eight or nine months.
As last year’s fall camp went on, it became clearer and clearer by the day that Sweat was going to be an immediate factor for the Seminoles in spite of the severe injuries.
While sporting a hefty knee brace throughout the entire season, Sweat accumulated 21 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery, in addition to a pair of quarterback hurries and two pass break-ups while working at a self-diagnosed 85% of his total health level.
This year, Sweat is quick to admit that he is in a much better place, health-wise.
“ Right now, I feel like I’m 100%. I just feel a lot more comfortable, in a lot better shape,” Sweat said when asked how he feels entering this season.
Perhaps the biggest thing for Sweat was a full offseason of workouts which allowed him to add 22 pounds, jumping up from 228 a season ago to his current weight of 250 pounds.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has taken note of the work that Sweat has put in and places him among the most capable players on the team.
“.Pound for pound, one of the most powerful guys I have ever been around,” Fisher said of Sweat when prompted at Florida State Media Day.
The fact that Sweat is being put in comparison with guys like Eddie Goldman, Mario Edwards Jr., Timmy Jernigan, and Everett Dawkins after just one season with the team says a lot about Sweat’s ceiling, at least in Fisher’s eyes.
With regard to what has aided Sweat’s improvements this summer, Fisher has a fairly straightforward answer.
“I think a lot of that comes back from trusting the knee. He was playing on the knee, and no one thought he would play on it but he rehabbed so well. I think as that trust comes back, you see the aggressiveness and things keep coming and I’m hoping he continues to make strides,” the Seminoles head coach said of the sophomore.
Now, a week into his second fall camp, Sweat is fully healthy, knee brace free for the first time since he arrived in Tallahassee, and ready to fully return to the form which had him, at one point, as the top recruit in the country. If he was only at 85% a season ago, a 100% healthy and nearly 25-pound larger Sweat is an absolutely terrifying premise for opposing offenses going forward.