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.
15: Troy Andersen, LB (Sr.) — Montana State
Andersen is one of the most physically gifted athletes in the FCS and perhaps the best all-around “football player” in the subdivision. This level will likely never see a dude like him again.
Andersen is second in Montana State history with 33 rushing touchdowns and ninth with 2,263 rushing yards. He holds single-season program records in rushing TDs (21), yards per rush (6.85), 100-yard rushing games (9), consecutive 100-yard rushing games (6), and points (128) … all set in 2018.
But here’s the thing, he’s starting at middle linebacker this fall.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder who can outrun defensive backs has had a career unlike any other.
As the Big Sky Freshman of the Year and HERO Sports Freshman All-American in 2017, Andersen started games at running back and linebacker, rushing for 515 yards and five TDs while recording nine tackles.
The next season, Andersen was asked to switched positions, and he casually went on to be named the All-Big Sky First Team quarterback. He also earned All-American honors from Stats Perform and HERO Sports. Andersen was a running QB, going for 1,412 yards and 21 TDs on the ground. He also threw for 1,195 yards and three scores.
In 2019, Andersen did a little of everything and was named a HERO Sports First Team All-American as an all-purpose player and a First Team All-Big Sky selection at linebacker. He played linebacker, running back, and quarterback.
Offensively, he ran 49 times for 336 yards and seven TDs, caught one pass for three yards, and went 2-for-2 passing for one touchdown. Defensively, Andersen recorded 54 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, one interception, and five pass breakups. In one game against SEMO, Andersen had a sack, a pass breakup, and a quarterback hurry while rushing for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
However, the number of reps began to take its toll. After eleven games, Andersen sat out the final four with a bad shoulder and injured knee as the Bobcats made a run to the semifinals.
After knee surgery in the offseason and MSU not playing any games in 2020-21, the new coaching staff’s plan for Andersen is to be a full-time linebacker this year. Once known as the best offensive weapon in the FCS, Andersen is now viewed as one of the top linebackers in the subdivision.
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.