The Florida State Seminoles turned the proverbial corner in 2021. Down the stretch of the season, FSU was a team no one really wanted to face. Now, returning several stars on the defensive side of the ball as well as QB Jordan Travis riding an impressive four-game stretch into the season, this FSU team is set up to be Mike Norvell’s best year in Tallahassee. Florida State’s top 10 returning college football players were a hard unit to fixate on as they return a ton of talent.
Top 10 returning players at Florida State
We’re counting down all the top 10 players returning to action on every team — we’ll deal with transfers later — from Air Force to Wyoming, from Miami to Hawaii, and all in between. Here are the top returning players to FSU.
10) Jarrian Jones, CB
Little know about Jarrian Jones and his skill set at cornerback. Jones, who quite literally couldn’t compete in contact drills until the season-opening game, played remarkably well given his circumstances last year. Despite a nasty injury that few seemed to know about, Jones was a terrific cover corner.
The coverage scheme under defensive coordinator Adam Fuller pits to Jones’ strengths, as he’s a physical cornerback with great ball skills. Jones is a name to watch in 2022 as he’s fully healthy entering the year for the first time since joining the ‘Noles.
9) Fabien Lovett, DT
A big man in the middle, Fabien Lovett returns for his third year in Tallahassee after two years at Mississippi State. Lovett, who transferred in with Jones above him here two years ago, exploded onto the scene last year due to his ability to rush the passer. He finished with two sacks and another 4.5 tackles for loss while plugging the middle alongside some talented pass rushers off the edge. Lovett has strength and speed, a terrific combination for a man his size.
8) Camren McDonald, TE
Returning to Tallahassee to once again chip away against defenses, Camren McDonald is back to average double-digit yards per catch and haul in multiple drive-extending receptions in 2022. McDonald has terrific size and separates himself from most of the nation’s tight ends with his all-around game. He’s a great pass protector when the play calls for it, and he moves incredibly well in the run game.
7) Omarion Cooper, CB
Finishing last year with two interceptions, Omarion Cooper announced himself to the nation. Playing as a true freshman is never easy; excelling once you’ve entered the starting lineup in Week 11 is a completely different feat.
Cooper is a terrific cornerback with the ability to play bigger receivers the same as he plays shifty, smaller receivers outside. He has great ball skills, as he showed off against Miami, and has enough speed to make up for any potential mistake in coverage.
6) Dillan Gibbons, G
A terrific blocker, Dillan Gibbons may be even a better person off the field than he is on it. And that’s saying something for the big man in the middle who paves the way on the ground and keeps clean pockets in the passing game. Gibbons is sound on the move but was certainly the best pass protector on FSU’s offensive line in 2021.
5) Robert Cooper, DT
Robert Cooper’s influence on the defensive line was terrific given the terrific edge-rushing duo outside him. Cooper pushed the pocket and made favorable situations for his defensive ends as he more often than not moved the quarterback off his spot in the passing game. Cooper’s play strength is something few have. When he gets his hands on ball carriers in the running game, they’re not going anywhere.
4) Akeem Dent, S
Patrolling the back end of the Seminoles’ defense, Akeem Dent plays with remarkable precision and power. He’ll lay the lumber in coverage, moving incredibly well in space to close gaps at every level of the field. Dent is also terrific when coming downhill to stuff the run, but he took it to the next level with his coverage prowess in 2021.
3) Kalen DeLoach, LB
If you watched FSU’s defense last season, it was likely Kalen DeLoach who caught your eye. DeLoach was everywhere for the ‘Noles last year. He ripped through blockers both at the line of scrimmage and at the second level to stuff rushing plays left and right. DeLoach was also fierce in coverage where he kept receivers at bay over the middle of the field with ease. Having a safety-sized linebacker who can stuff the run like a defensive tackle is a tremendous treat for the defense, and that’s what DeLoach is.
2) Jammie Robinson, S
Leading the team with four interceptions last year, it was Jammie Robinson who stole the show as the season went along for FSU. When Robinson got rolling from his strong safety position, it ended in impressive defensive outings for the Seminoles. Robinson finished the year with seven tackles for loss, four interceptions, and a handful of other ridiculous statistics. His impact can be described in any number of ways.
1) Jordan Travis, QB
There isn’t much more to say about Jordan Travis. If he isn’t the most athletic player returning to Tallahassee this fall, he’s certainly the most important. After fighting his way through the QB battle with McKenzie Milton, it’s Travis’ show in 2022.
He put forth a dominant showing down the stretch after the QB-battle element was removed. Travis is ridiculously-talented with the ball in his hands and showcased a stretch of games where he found every level of the field very well. His game wasn’t perfect, but when he plays at his top form, Travis gives FSU a chance to win every game on their schedule in 2022.
Honorable mention players returning to FSU in 2022
- Travis Jay, CB
- Treshaun Ward, RB
- Lawrance Toafili, RB
- Ontaria Wilson/Keyshawn Helton/Ja’Khi Douglas, WRs
- Robert Scott Jr., OT
- Maurice Smith, C