Florida State has dominated the recruiting trail.
The Seminoles have ranked in the top 5 of the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings in each of the past three seasons.
FSU’s 2016 class included one five-star prospect, 17 four-stars and six three-stars. The ‘Noles also ranked No. 3 overall and No. 4 overall in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Still, some of these former top prospects haven’t gotten to live up to preseason expectations. In many cases, they’ve either been plagued by injuries or buried on a loaded depth chart due to inexperience.
However, these players are still crucial in the program’s long-term success. With their playoff chances now officially over, these players will need to focus on the future.
The month of November will be crucial in their development as they are expected to take on bigger roles in 2017 and beyond.
Here’s a look at the underclassmen who need to build toward a stronger campaign in 2017.
Levonta Taylor, DB, freshman
The lone five-star signee of FSU’s 2016 class. Levonta Taylor has been buried on the depth chart during his first college season. Taylor is currently listed behind both Tarvarus McFadden and Marcus Lewis for one of the cornerback spots.
In limited action, he’s recorded six tackles and one pass breakup. But there’s little doubt that Taylor will see a bigger role as his college career progresses, including next season following senior Marquez White’s departure.
Derwin James, DB, sophomore
Okay, this one is a bit different. By all accounts, James is FSU’s best player and a full-time starter at safety. But let’s not act like his knee injury hasn’t been crucial in FSU’s defensive struggles.
James has missed the majority of the season, beginning with the Seminoles’ blowout loss at Louisville. Though there is little doubt he will, the sophomore defensive back needs to prove he’s still as good as his breakout freshman campaign.
James is likely to return soon, but the bigger concern is whether he’ll be ready for 2017. We already know he has the talent, but the sophomore safety needs to make a full recovery before he’s assumed to be one of the ACC’s best defensive players.
George Campbell, WR, sophomore
Much like James, George Campbell’s season has been spoiled by a major injury. Only Campbell’s never got started after being ruled out in preseason.
The former five-star prospect underwent surgery for a core muscle injury in September after battling a groin injury during the preseason.
After taking a medical redshirt, Campbell should earn a major role in FSU’s passing attack, especially with Travis Rudolph expected to forego his senior season.
Jacques Patrick, RB, sophomore
No one should be surprised by how good Dalvin Cook has been. Most expected him to be among the nation’s best running backs. Even four-star prospect Jacques Patrick had to know that.
But let’s not act like Cook will be back for his senior season. The current ACC leading rusher has plenty of attributes to entice NFL teams into investing an early draft pick.
That means Patrick will likely get his opportunity as FSU’s primary back in 2017. So far, he’s made the most out of his limited touches in 2016, with 279 yards and three touchdowns on 44 attempts. That’s equivalent to a 6.34 yards per carry average, which is 0.33 higher than Cook’s.
Though Cook will be difficult to replace, Patrick should provide the Seminoles with another talented feature back in 2017.