Welcome to the 2021 FCS Jersey Countdown.
Leading up to Week 0 games on Aug. 28, HERO Sports is going to name the best returning FCS player by jersey number, 99-0. Due to rosters being updated at different times for teams across the country and to keep things consistent, jersey numbers are based on the 2020 fall-2021 spring season.
Note: Jersey numbers are based on 2020 fall-2021 spring rosters.
37: Clayton Cheatham, TE (Sr.) — James Madison
Cheatham was a big recruiting get for JMU. The Virginia native chose the Dukes over offers from Army, Navy, Old Dominion, Fordham, Richmond, and Towson.
He instantly became one of the best young tight ends in the FCS in 2017. The freshman caught eight passes for 137 yards and four touchdowns. Three of the TDs came in three straight games.
Cheatham’s receiving production went down the next two seasons, though, with a combined seven catches for 56 yards and one TD in 2018 and 2019.
But Cheatham stepped up in the spring season as JMU lost its starting quarterback and top two receivers from 2019.
While blocking for the No. 6 rushing offense in the FCS, Cheatham also had 12 receptions for 164 yards and two TDs. He had multiple catches in five of eight games played, including two for 40 yards and a score in the semifinals against Sam Houston.
Cheatham, who is 6-foot-2 and 234 pounds, is an underrated weapon for the Dukes. While his number of targets won’t be huge this fall thanks to the strong group of running backs and standout wide receiver Antwane Wells Jr. becoming a downfield threat, Cheatham still looks to have the best season of his career.