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FSU Safety Derwin James comes back strong from knee injury

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For so long, he watched. He waited.

FSU safety Derwin James had become a memory. The former star for the Seminoles, perhaps one of their best defensive players, waited for 176 days – and 11 games – as his left knee healed.

Now, James is back.

And, yeah, it was worth the wait.

“I remember the long days, it was like an everyday thing, where they would tell me, ’no no no, just take it day by day’” James told the Tallahassee Democrat.

“I’m happy I’m back out here now, though.”

Going into last season, James was expected to be the best player on the FSU defense. But he tore ligaments against Georgia Southern and was unable to come back.

Throughout his journey, James said he has learned something.

“Don’t take nothing for granted,” he said.

“Football is a gift. I learned a lot just by watching it. I just take everything even more serious now. Working harder.”

He has also picked up a new role for the Seminoles, lining up to return punts on special teams.

“We put the ball with the guys that have the best hands, and the best ability to run with it,” Jimbo Fisher said. “There are not many positions he can’t play.”

Said James: “I like the ball in my hands. I joke with Coach [Fisher] all the time like ‘Coach, I can do something for the team that could help us.’ Coach is just giving me the opportunity.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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