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.
3: Eric Barriere, QB (Sr.) — Eastern Washington
Barriere has been electrifying crowds since stepping in for injured All-American Gage Gubrud in 2018. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder has dazzling speed, can improvise and escape pressure, has a strong arm with a great deep ball, and can make tough throws in the pocket, on the run, or off-platform.
He was just a redshirt sophomore in 2018 when Gubrud’s injury left EWU’s national title hopes on shaky ground. But Barriere went 8-2 as a starter, including a seven-game winning streak en route to the national championship game, where the Eagles lost 38-24 to NDSU.
Barriere’s dual-threat abilities gave EWU’s offense another dimension, and the HERO Sports Sophomore All-American finished the season with 2,450 yards passing (190-of-311), 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He also racked up 613 yards rushing and eight TDs.
Barriere had the perfect blend of play-making ability and taking care of the ball in 2019. He went 258-of-438 passing for 3,712 yards, 31 TDs, and only four interceptions. On the ground, he added 558 yards and eight scores. Barriere was second in the FCS in total offense (355.8 yards per game), third in passing (309.3 YPG), and fourth in points responsible for (20.2 PPG).
He was named a HERO Sports Third Team All-American and finished fifth in voting for the Walter Payton Award, given to the best FCS offensive player.
Barriere was at it again in the 2021 spring season. In seven games, he went 183-of-296 passing for 2,439 yards, 19 TDs, and seven interceptions. He didn’t run the ball nearly as often and totaled 144 yards and one TD on the ground. Barriere threw for more than 300 yards in five of the seven games and had at least two touchdown passes in six.
Southeastern Louisiana University QB Cole Kelley won the Walter Payton Award with 137 voting points, and Barriere was right there at No. 2 with 131 points. He otherwise hauled in a whole lot of postseason accolades: six different All-American First Teams, All-Big Sky First Team, Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and the FCS ADA’s Offensive Player of the Year.
With more than 150 FCS players transferring to the FBS in 2021, many wondered if Barriere would be one of them. But he stayed and will finish his amazing career with the Eagles.
Barriere, who is 20-9 as a starter and 13-0 at home, has 10,102 yards of total offense and 93 touchdowns responsible for (75 passing, 18 rushing). He is on everyone’s preseason All-American team, and we named him the No. 1 returning FCS quarterback.
Check out the latest episode of the FCS Football Talk podcast, which is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart, Stitcher, and Spreaker.
Sam’s coverage of the FCS began in 2012 as the sports editor and eventual editor-in-chief of NDSU’s The Spectrum. After graduating in 2015, he spent three years in the newspaper and magazine industry while starting his work for HERO Sports in the fall of 2016 as a freelancer. In May 2018, he joined the website full time as the Senior FCS Analyst.