The Florida State Seminoles are coming off a perfect 2013 season which ended with a BCS National Championship. They are favored to make a run at a repeat this season thanks in part to the return of defending Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. But the real reason the Noles will be in the mix for a second-straight national title will be their defense which replaces some key losses in the secondary with young stars in the making like versatile sophomore Jalen Ramsey.
Ramsey became the first freshman since Deion Sanders in 1985 to start at corner for FSU as he lined up in the nickel position for the Noles defense. He showed tremendous versatility, logging time at both corner and safety when needed and earned votes at both positions at ACC Media Days for the Preseason All-Conference team (though he ultimately didn’t make the cut). He finished the year with 49 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble returned for a touchdown. His performance in 2013 earned him a spot on numerous Freshman All-American lists and should earn him a larger role in the defense moving forward.
At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Ramsey is a long defender with elite athleticism. He’ll get the opportunity to move around the defense again in 2014 as he learns from one of the best cornerback tandems in the country in P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby. Their ability to shut down receivers on the outside will likely mean more opportunities for Ramsey in the slot to make plays, putting his playmaking ability on display as he breaks out as a star this fall.
Florida State won their national title in 2013 thanks in large part to a stifling pass defense. This season, that pass defense could be even better with players like Jalen Ramsey blossoming as college football stars in 2014.