The Daily Nole

2017-18 Athletic Year: The Five FSU Programs Most Likely to Win a National Championship

Mitch White/FSU athletics

The first athletic event of the new year is less than two weeks away as Florida State looks to build on another outstanding year on the fields, courts, sand and track.

The season that most are anticipating is football season as FSU will begin ranked No. 3 in the Coaches Poll and perhaps even higher in the AP Poll. That group of Seminoles however, isn’t the only one with national championship aspirations. Here’s a look at the five programs most likely to win a national championship during the 2017-18 athletic year:

5. Baseball

After reaching the College World Series for the first time in five years this past season, there is reason to believe that Florida State can get back to Omaha. The Seminoles lose some big bats in Taylor Walls, Dylan Busby and Quincy Nieporte, but Cal Raleigh, Drew Mendoza and Jackson Lueck all return.

FSU also returns its entire rotation which consists of All-American Tyler Holton, Drew Parrish and Cole Sands. FSU will have to replace some key arms in the bullpen as Drew Carlton, Alec Byrd and Jim Voyles are off to play professionally. The Seminoles will get Cobi Johnson back after missing all of 2017 following Tommy John Surgery.

4. Softball

Alex Powers, Sydney Broderick and Ellie Cooper may be gone, but Florida State still returns a stacked lineup which includes Morgan Klaevemann, Carsyn Gordon, Cali Harrod and reigning ACC Player of the Year, Jessica Warren. Late last season, youngsters like Dani Morgan and Anna Shelnutt came on strong.

In the circle, the Seminoles will have to replace 2-time ACC Pitcher of the Year, Jessica Burroughs, but the addition of Kylee Hanson should help alleviate that loss at least to some extent. Joining Hanson in the circle will be lefty and All-ACC performer Meghan King.

3. Beach Volleyball

After reaching the national championship in 2016, Florida State was one of the last four teams standing in the sand this past season before falling to Hawaii in a thrilling match in the NCAA Tournament. FSU will lose Sierra Sanchez and Leigh Andrew, but returns just about everyone else, including Brooke Kuhlman, Victoria Paranagua, Francesca Goncalves, Vanessa Freier and Eva Toruella.

2. Football

Consensus All-Americans in DeMarcus Walker and Dalvin Cook won’t be easy to replace, but Florida State looks to be deep at running back and along the defensive line. The biggest strength for FSU will perhaps be in the secondary as do-everything safety Derwin James returns from injury to team up with the nation’s leader in interceptions in Tarvarus McFadden. There is also no shortage of depth in the defensive backfield and plenty of veteran leadership with Nate Andrews and Ermon Lane both being seniors.

On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback and reigning ACC Rookie of the Year, Deondre Francois, is expected to take the next step. While the offensive line is a question mark, there is no shortage of talent at the skill positions, but depth at receiver is non-existent. The Seminoles will have to navigate through a tough schedule.

1. Soccer

Last season was a disappointment for Florida State as the Seminoles were upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Utah after five straight College Cup appearances. Despite a disappointing campaign, FSU managed to win the ACC and returns one of the nation’s best goalkeepers in Cassie Miller.

FSU also returns its top two goal scorers in Megan Connolly and Deyna Castellanos. Natalia Kuikka and Kaycie Tillman also return after being tied for the team-lead with five assists a season ago. FSU soccer kicks off the athletic year on Aug. 18 against UNC-Greensboro.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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