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.
54: Kyin Howard, LB (Jr.) — North Carolina A&T
NC A&T takes great pride in having a strong defense. In 2019, the last time the Aggies played, they had the 18th-best scoring defense in the FCS with 20.8 points allowed per game and were No. 4 against the run, allowing 79.9 rushing yards a game.
One of the standouts on the defense is Howard, a physical presence at middle linebacker. The 6-foot, 243-pounder had a breakout season in 2019 when he totaled 79 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss. Howard was named to the All-MEAC Second Team as the Aggies finished 9-3 and won the Celebration Bowl. Two of his best performances came in the two biggest games — 11 tackles, 0.5 TFLs, and one forced fumble versus Duke; nine tackles and 0.5 TFLs in the Celebration Bowl versus Alcorn State.
His play earned him a ton of respect heading into 2020 when Howard was named the MEAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. But NC A&T and several other MEAC teams decided not to play due to COVID.
A new era now begins this season for NC A&T. The Aggies make their debut in the Big South Conference as they look to make an impact in the FCS playoff discussion. They are ranked No. 19 in HERO Sports’ Preseason Top 25.
With Howard back along with several more defensive standouts, including the best No. 93 Jermaine McDaniel, the Aggies will get to prove they have a top defense against a new-look schedule.
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.