Florida State DB Derwin James declares for NFL draft, will not play in bowl

Florida State defensive back Derwin James is leaving school early to declare for the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser, File)

Florida State will play its bowl game without one of its best players.

Derwin James, a junior defensive back, announced Tuesday that he will forego his final season of eligibility and declare for the NFL draft. He will not play in the Independence Bowl against Southern Miss. James announced the move on Instagram.

“On to the next chapter of my life,” James wrote. “I will be entering the 2018 NFL Draft and will not participate in the bowl game. FOREVER NOLE NATION.”

James, a safety, burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2015, totaling 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. However, James suffered a knee injury in Week 2 of the 2016 season and did not return that season. This year, James totaled 84 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, a sack and two interceptions.

He is considered a potential first-round pick.

After starting the season 2-5, FSU won four of its final five games to extend its bowl streak to 36 consecutive seasons. The Seminoles clinched the bowl trip by beating UL-Monroe over the weekend in a rescheduled game. FSU was scheduled to host ULM on Sept. 9, but the game was canceled due to Hurricane Irma. FSU played the game without head coach Jimbo Fisher, who resigned Friday to accept the Texas A&M job.

James is the third underclassman to announce he won’t play in his team’s bowl game, joining Texas teammates DeShon Elliott and Connor Williams.

Other notable players to declare for the draft this week are Miami running back Mark Walton and Pitt wideout Quadree Henderson.

Walton had 428 yards (7.6 ypc) and three TDs before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in October. In 2016, Walton was a third-team All-ACC selection when he rushed for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns to go with 27 catches for 240 yards. He also had 450 yards and nine scores on the ground and 22 catches for 293 yards and a touchdown through the air as a true freshman in 2015.

Henderson has been one of the better all-purpose threats in the nation during his time at Pitt. In three seasons, he totaled 885 rushing yards, 43 catches for 473 yards and seven total return touchdowns (four kickoff, three punt).

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!