Andrew Miller, Correspondent (@AndrewMillerFS on Twitter)
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – When defensive stud Derwin James went down with an injury in week two of last year, many Florida State fans held their breath. After the game against Charleston Southern, those fans’ fears quickly became reality—the talented junior safety was victimized by a season-ending knee injury that kept him out of action for the remainder of the season.
The untimely news was a confidence blow to a talented yet young Seminole defense. The very next week, the impact of James’ injury was on full display when FSU was blown out by Louisville 63-20. The defense not only lacked James’ ability, but his leadership as well.
This upcoming year, however, James is back, and he is arguably better than ever. Early looks at his footwork, technique, and overall athletic ability throughout spring practice show that his season-ending surgery was successful, and that he is adamant about making up for lost ground.
Nobody has ever questioned James’ work ethic or his tenacity, as the star safety is equal parts gym rat and rabid dog as it pertains to intangible qualities on the football field. He’s hinted that he’ll be channeling the frustration of not being able to play towards his opponents next season.
“They gone (sic) feel me next year, somebody got to pay for this,” James wrote on Twitter back in November, referencing the bitter disappointment of such an injury. His love for the game is apparent in everything he does, so it was surely tough to watch his teammates compete from the sidelines.
In his assumed “money year,” James will surely be looking to make a strong return to impress NFL scouts. Serious injuries have historically been a red flag for executives looking to build a winning team, but a convincing junior season could nullify that notion entirely. If James can perform near the same level as what his freshman year indicated, he could be looking at a monstrous season for the Seminoles. Couple that with a willingness to step up and be a leader like coach Jimbo Fisher has indicated, and James may end up leaving quite an imprint on the Florida State football program.