It’s been a busy offseason for Florida State football.

This week linebacker Tyrell Lyons announced his transfer from the FSU football program on social media. Lyons is a rising junior who sat out all of last season with an ACL tear. Now it appears that he is open to sign with any interested DI programs, potentially as a defensive back.

Lyons departure doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise to the Seminoles team. Juniors Ro’Derrick Hoskins and Matthew Thomas are expected to be the starting linebackers for a stellar FSU defense. At the same time, the second-rated FSU 2016 recruiting class includes four promising freshman linebackers: Josh Brown, Dontavious Jackson, Emmert Rice, and Keion Joyner.

Combine this with the fact that FSU had given out more roster spots and scholarships than were technically available and it is easy to see why Lyons would take this opportunity to play on a different team. Even counting the loss of Lyons, Florida State currently has 86 scholarship players, one more than their allowable limit.

While the Seminoles are losing Lyons, an emerging defensive star in safety Derwin James has been named to the Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list for 2016. The award, named after Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott, recognizes not only excellence in defensive abilities on the field, but also excellence in the player’s everyday character off the field.

James is expected to be the heart and soul of this defense next season, similar to how now-Jacksonville Jaguars safety Jalen Ramsey was for the Seminoles last season. James was named an All-America player last year as a freshman while being second on the team in total tackles last season with 91, including 4.5 sacks.

Said James on his leadership role on defense, “I’ve learned a lot. I’m helping other guys in the secondary. Like coach (Charles) Kelly [FSU defensive coordinator] said, ‘if you can teach it, you know it. You’re learning it twice.’ It’s helping me a lot. The game is slowing down for me a lot.”

With another vocal leader on defense emerging, the Seminoles look to pick up right where they left off next season despite the departure of the best defensive back in the nation in the NFL draft in Ramsey.

Follow the author on Twitter @jeauxypatton for more on FSU sports.

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