Florida State defensive back Derwin James was a consensus Top-10 recruit in the country last year, and everyone expected him to come in, play early, and make an impact. James has done just that, but not in the way that most people would have expected.
James has been used as a pass rusher in the last two games, and he's been a force coming off the edge. He's used his speed and strength to get around blockers, and has had multiple quarterback pressures coming off the edge. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been very impressed with what he's seen from James as an edge rusher.
"He's having good success at that position right now, rushing the edge," Ramsey said. "Trying to get after the quarterback, cause hurries. Hopefully he'll get some sacks and he can continue to have success.
James is already filling up the stat line. So far this season he has 8 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass defense, 2 quarterback hurries, and a fumble recovery. His play has really impressed head coach Jimbo Fisher, who noted how his versatility makes him such a great player.
"Not just his versatility, but his knowledge and wisdom," Fisher said. "It's easy to be versatile athletically. It's very hard to be versatile mentally because it's a lot of retention and decisions and things that go on for a young guy. And Derwin is a very -- he's very intelligent. I think that was very encouraging. Not that he wasn't doing it, but just to see him do it at that level in a big situation."
With the loss of Nate Andrews in the secondary, James will be relied upon more in coverage than he has been so far this season. Ramsey doesn't believe that will be an issue because of the trust he's earned from the Florida State players.
"A lot of maturity so far on the field when he's out there playing with us," Ramsey said. "We trust him. He's confident out there. Things that you would like to see in a young player. Having some success out there."
James has a lot of expectations sitting on his shoulders, and, while it's still very early in his career, he's on his way to meeting them.