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
95: Joseph Wallace, DL (Sr.) — Sam Houston
SHSU’s program transformation to being a national championship-worthy team started to take root in 2019. The Bearkats never had issues offensively, but the defense needed to be fixed.
The Bearkats scoring defense went from 31.2 points per game in 2017 to 28.1 in 2018 and then to 17.8 in 2019. The rushing defense became dominant, going from 201.0 rushing yards allowed per game to 208.5 to being the No. 1 FCS team in rushing defense with 69.9 yards allowed.
A key addition to the defensive line was Joseph Wallace, who started seven games for Texas Tech in 2018 and was a three-star recruit. At 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds, Wallace plugged the middle of SHSU’s defense while starting all 12 games in 2019. He finished with 21 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, four sacks, and three forced fumbles as he was honored on the All-Southland Conference Second Team.
Oddly enough, it was the SHSU offense that struggled, some of which had to do with injuries.
The Bearkats put it all together in the spring of 2021. They ranked No. 9 in scoring offense (37.5 PPG), No. 22 in scoring defense (19.6 PPG), and No. 12 in rushing defense (94.9 YPG), en route to the program’s first FCS national championship.
Wallace was again a force in the middle, totaling 31 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, and 2.5 sacks. He was named to the All-Southland Conference First Team along with earning HERO Sports All-American honors.
SHSU’s championship roster appears to be staying intact for the fall season, making the Bearkats the team to beat entering 2021.