The Daily Nole

Sunday Centerpiece: Looking Back on FSU’s Highest Ranked Signees of the 2010s

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It’s a new day in Florida State football.

On Wednesday, head coach Mike Norvell completed his first recruiting class as head man of the Seminoles. FSU finished 2020 with the No. 22 overall class and the fourth-ranked class in the ACC.

Norvell will try to turn around an FSU program that is coming off consecutive losing seasons and is just a combined 18-20 over the last three seasons. A decade ago however, FSU wasn’t in all that different of a situation. Jimbo Fisher had been tabbed to replace the legendary Bobby Bowden for an FSU program that had gone 7-6 three times in the previous four years.

From the beginning of Fisher’s era in 2010 through Willie Taggart’s two classes of 2018 and 2019, the Seminoles put together some impressive recruiting classes. That included some pretty impressive prospects.

In this piece, we’ll be looking back on the five highest rated prospects of the 2010s, based on the 247Sports Composite, and how their FSU careers played out:

5. Levonta Taylor, CB (2016-19)

(Mitch White/FSU athletics)

247Composite rankings: 5-star cornerback, .9967 rating, No. 1 cornerback, No. 7 overall in 2016
Career stats: 89 tackles, 5.5 TFL, sack, FF, 4 INT, 2 TD
Recognitions: None
Career Overview: A Virginia Beach native, Levonta Taylor played in 44 games and made 26 career starts for FSU. As a sophomore in 2017, Taylor had the look of a lockdown corner, but battled through a stress fracture as a junior and was unable to settle into a role as a senior. Taylor finished his career with four career interceptions, but returned two for a touchdown. Those came in 2017 at Florida and in 2018 against Samford.

4. Karlos Williams, S/RB (2011-14)

(Jeremy Esbrandt/D’Vel Photography/FSU athletics)

247Composite rankings: 5-star safety, .9977 rating, No. 1 safety, No. 4 overall in 2011
Career stats: 35 tackles, TFL, INT, 1,419 yards rushing, 5.9 YPC, 22 rush TD, 328 yards receiving, TD catch
Recognitions: None
Career Overview: A native of Davenport and younger brother of FSU linebacker Vince Williams, Karlos Williams spent his first two years at safety before moving to running back. What Williams always had was a knack for coming through on the big stage. Williams’ interception against Georgia Tech sealed the 2012 ACC Championship and FSU’s first conference title in seven years. After starting the 2013 opener at safety, Williams moved to running back and took his first carry 65 yards for a touchdown against Nevada. In the BCS National Championship for the 2013 title, Williams ran for a first down on a fake punt to spark the Seminoles’ comeback as they rallied from a 21-3 deficit to top Auburn, 34-31. As a senior in 2014, Williams took a backseat to Dalvin Cook, but scored game-winning touchdowns in victories over Clemson and Notre Dame.

3. Derwin James, S (2015-17)

(Jeremy Esbrandt/D’Vel Photography/FSU athletics)

247Composite rankings: 5-star safety, .9982 rating, No. 1 safety, No. 5 overall in 2015
Career stats: 186 tackles, 15 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 FF, 3 INT, blocked kick, TD
Recognitions: 2015 Freshman All-American first team (ESPN, The Sporting News, USA Today), 2015 All-ACC third team, 2017 All-American first team (FWAA), 2017 All-American second team (AFCA, AP, Walter Camp, The Sporting News), 2017 All-ACC first team
Career Overview: Derwin James was never quite the human highlight reel that many may have expected during his time at Florida State, but he was a Swiss Army knife for Charles Kelly’s defense. James was regarded as an excellent tackler and a hard hitter, but James was also solid in coverage and one of FSU’s best pass rushers. As a sophomore in 2016, James was limited to just two games because of a torn meniscus.

2. Cam Akers, RB (2017-19)

(Damon Herota/FSU athletics)

247Composite rankings: 5-star safety, .9984 rating, No. 2 running back, No. 3 overall in 2017
Career stats: 2,874 yards rushing, 4.9 YPC, 27 rush TD, 486 yards receiving, 7 TD catches
Recognitions: 2017 All-ACC third team, 2019 All-ACC second team
Career Overview: The biggest issue for Cam Akers during his time in Tallahassee was that he had to do his damage behind a poor offensive line. Despite that, Akers set an FSU freshman record with 1,024 rushing yards in 2017. After a disappointing 2018, Akers enjoyed one of the best seasons ever for an FSU running back in 2019. Akers leaves FSU ranking sixth in program history in rushing yards, seventh in rushing touchdowns and sixth in total touchdowns. In a win over Syracuse in 2019, Akers tied the FSU single-game record with four touchdown runs in a 35-17 victory.

1. Mario Edwards Jr., DE (2012-14)

(FSU athletics)

247Composite rankings: 5-star defensive tackle, .9995 rating, No. 1 defensive tackle, No. 2 overall in 2012
Career stats: 89 tackles, 23 TFL, 8 sacks, 3 FF, INT, TD
Recognitions: 2013 All-ACC third team, 2014 All-ACC first team, 2014 All-American second team (CNN/Sports Illustrated)
Career Overview: The son of former Florida State cornerback Mario Edwards, Mario Edwards Jr. was an outstanding athlete, given his 295-pound frame. Edwards appeared in 35 games and made 26 starts during his time at Florida State. Edwards didn’t put up massive sack numbers, but was outstanding at setting the edge. Edwards’ only career touchdown helped set the tone for FSU in a 51-14 victory at Clemson in 2013 — a top-5 match-up.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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