Welcome to the 2022 FCS Jersey Countdown. Leading up to the start of weekly college football odds and Week 0 games on Aug. 27, HERO Sports will 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 last season’s rosters.
Note: Jersey numbers are based on 2021 rosters.
44: Hunter Luepke, FB (Sr.) — North Dakota State
Luepke is arguably the most dominant and versatile offensive weapon in the FCS. While his season-long numbers may not show it, he can take over games when NDSU gives him the load.
An All-American fullback the last two seasons, the 6-foot-1 and 234-pounder is also used as a tight end and a running back. The Bison are selective on when to utilize Luepke the most, perhaps to preserve his health throughout the season with his bruising running style. Luepke may have double-digit touches one week and less than five the next week. During the 2021 spring and fall season, he combined for 1,001 yards rushing and 14 TDs on 171 carries along with four touchdown catches.
He showed what he’s capable of when unleashed in the final two games of last season. Luepke had 19 carries for 110 yards, plus three catches for 89 yards and two scores in the semifinals against James Madison. Then in the national championship game, he was named the Most Outstanding Player after rushing 14 times for 82 yards and three scores against Montana State.
Luepke’s combination of size, athleticism, and versatility has him on the 2023 NFL Draft radar. He enters this fall as our No. 2 FCS running back/fullback, while teammate Tamerik Williams is No. 18. With an offensive line bringing back nine of its top 10 players and its stable of top rushers all returning, NDSU’s ground game should be terrific again after ranking No. 2 in the FCS last season (280.6 yards per game).