Florida State sophomore defensive back Derwin James was named to the 2016 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List on Wednesday.
The defensive playmaker from Haines City, Fla., is one of 42 of the top defensive players in the country nominated for the award which is given to the student-athlete who exhibits the characteristics displayed by Ronnie Lott during his legendary college and professional careers. IMPACT stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.
James made quite the impact in his first season with the Seminoles in 2015, capturing Freshman All-America honors from USA Today, Campus Insider and Sporting News. Despite making only eight starts, James ranked second on FSU with 91 tackles, 4.5 sacks, five pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. His tackle total is the third highest tackle output all-time by a freshman Nole (behind only Marvin Jones and Ron Simmons).
The 6-3, 213-pounder played primarily at safety, but was versatile enough to line up at multiple positions in defensive coordinator Charles Kelly’s defense, including as a pass rusher off the edge in certain packages. James got better as the season progressed, leading FSU in tackles five times. He captured ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors after the NC State game where he tallied 10 tackles, one TFL, a sack and a fumble recovery. James capped his debut campaign with a season-best 14 stops, including two TFLs and a sack against Houston in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
James was graded as the nation’s second-best safety overall in 2015 by Pro Football Focus and also collected honorable mention All-America honors by CBS Sports. When Florida State’s 2016 spring practice season concluded in April, James was named the recipient of the Hinesman Spring Team MVP along with senior defensive end DeMarcus Walker.
The Lott IMPACT Trophy winner, announced in December at a gala black-tie dinner, will receive $25,000 for his school’s general scholarship fund while each of three runner-ups will receive $5,000 each for their schools.
Additionally, one athlete is chosen as Player of the Week each week during the season, earning $1,000 for his school.
A National Voter Panel of more than 300 former college coaches, players and members of the media, vote on the award.