Florida State has a school record eight early enrollees on campus this spring, but none come in with higher expectations than 5-star safety Derwin James. James committed to Florida State in February of 2012, nearly three full years before he set foot on campus, and never wavered in his commitment.
Since he has set foot on campus James has impressed both the coaches and the senior members of the secondary. Head coach Jimbo Fisher said that James is a complete player.
“They guy has a passion to be good,” Fisher said. “Works hard. Very intelligent. Learns well. He can play the run and the pass. He’s not just a run guy or a pass guy. He has the ability to do both and be very versatile.”
Safety Nate Andrews said that James is one of the most athletic players on the team.
“I think he’s going to be a heck of a player, he just has to learn the playbook,” Andrews said. “He’s athletic, he’s probably one of the most athletic players on our team next to Jalen Ramsey. I think he’s going to be a heck of a player.”
Andrews isn’t the only one to compare James to Ramsey. Jalen Ramsey himself thinks that James just like him, but that he’s further along as a freshman.
“Beast,” Ramsey said. “Derwin really is. He reminds me a lot of myself out here right now. He has a head start in the spring. He’s kind of like I was, but he knows more of the playbook right now than I did when I came in. He flies around, has fun with it, and you can tell that he’s a competitor. He loves being out here.”
Senior safety Tyler Hunter echoed Andrew’s comments that James was an athletic freak and said that he expects him to be great.
“He’s super athletic,” Hunter said. “He’s a freak of nature. He just flies around and tries to make plays like everyone else. He’s going to be great.”
James was known for his hard-hitting ability in high school and Hunter said that they have to hold him back in practice.
“We just hold him back,” Hunter said. “We don’t take people to the ground until the scrimmages. He’s going to knock somebody out at the scrimmage.”
James has been working with the second team defense at safety and has been in with the first team at times in the Dime package so far this spring. He’s the type of player that could end up starting as a freshman just like Jalen Ramsey. Even if James doesn’t start he will see the field early and often because players as physically gifted as he is don’t come around very often.