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
65: Tristen Taylor, OL (Sr.) — Eastern Washington
When his EWU career is done at the end of the 2021 season, Taylor will have played seven seasons and will likely be a five-time all-conference selection. Let me repeat that … Seven seasons. Five-time all-conference.
How does that happen? Let’s break it down.
A two-star recruit out of California, Taylor arrived on campus and redshirted in 2015.
In 2016, he earned his first all-conference honor as an honorable mention, starting all 14 games at left tackle. In 2017, Taylor was named All-Big Sky honorable mention again with 11 starts at left guard and left tackle. The next season, Taylor played in three games before suffering a season-ending injury.
He came back stronger in 2019, starting all 12 games at left tackle and elevating himself to the All-Conference Second Team.
Due to the injury in 2018, Taylor was granted a sixth year of eligibility for 2020. And because of COVID, the 2020-21 season was a free year of eligibility.
After starting all seven games during the spring, Taylor reached the All-Big Sky First Team and was recognized on the American Football Coaches Association and Phil Steele’s All-American First Team.
With 47 career starts, Taylor is coming back for his seventh season this fall. The 6-foot-6, 320-pounder may need a bigger trophy case.
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.