TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State’s Derwin James will not play the Seminoles bowl game, saying he is leaving school and will enter the NFL draft.
The redshirt sophomore safety made his announcement via Instagram on Tuesday. He said that he will not play in the Dec. 27 Independence Bowl game against Southern Mississippi.
James said last week that he planned on playing in the bowl game, but that was before coach Jimbo Fisher resigned to take the Texas A&M coaching job. James was also limited to two games in 2016 due to a knee injury, which might have also played a factor into his decision.
He isn’t the first player to announce that he wouldn’t participate in a bowl game this season. Texas cornerback Holton Hill, safety DeShon Elliott and left tackle Connor Williams have all opted to skip the Longhorns’ Dec. 27 Texas Bowl game against Missouri to enter the draft.
All are following the lead of running backs Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) and Leonard Fournette (LSU), who did not play last year and were selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
“I feel extremely grateful that every person I spoke to supported my decision to begin my training immediately. They all know how much this program means to me and they saw firsthand how much it killed me to be away from the field when I injured my knee last year,” James wrote in a post on The Players’ Tribune. “It’s hard to really believe I’ll never wear that garnet and gold uniform again, but everyone I’ve reached out to has agreed that this is the best decision for me and my family.”
James was the only FSU player to earn a first-team, All-ACC selection. He had 84 tackles, which was second on Florida State, two interceptions (which included a Pick Six) and one sack after missing most of 2016 with a knee injury.
He is projected to be among the first defensive backs taken in next April’s draft and would likely be among the top 15 overall players selected. James is also attempting to become the third Florida State DB since 2013 to be selected in the first round. Xavier Rhodes went 25th overall to Minnesota in 2013 and Jalen Ramsey was the fifth overall pick by Jacksonville in 2016.
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